Batsmen have lot to learn from gutty Herath – Mathews

Rex Clementine

reporting from Chester-le-Street

Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews praised the fighting spirit of senior player Rangana Herath, who made a gutty half-century in Sri Lanka’s second innings in the eight wicket defeat to England in the second Test here in Chester-le-Street on Monday.

Following on after being bowled out for 101 in the first innings, Herath batted for more than two hours in Sri Lanka’s second innings and completed his second Test fifty adding 116 runs for the seventh wicket with centurion Dinesh Chandimal.

Hearth’s (61) effort helped Sri Lanka to stretch the Test deep into day four and make England bat again to avoid innings defeat.

"Rangana showed lot of fighting spirit in our second innings and others can learn a lot," Mathews said.

"He’s become a proper number eight for us over the past one-and-a-half years. He’s been scoring and hanging in there. Especially if I recall a couple of years ago at Headingley, once again he batted with me and got 49. He’s been giving his best with the bat and ball for us over the last couple of years. Every day he’s been trying to get better. Hopefully he can continue that," Mathews added.

After a disappointing first innings, where Sri Lanka were bowled out in little over a session for a paltry 101, the tourists fought back to post 475 in their second innings. "Not scoring more in the first innings was very disappointing. We talked about bringing back the fight – the Sri Lankan fight that we’ve not had in the last couple of weeks. The boys showed a lot of resilience after the last five weeks to come back and score 475 runs was very pleasing. The way Chandimal batted and also Kaushal Silva and Rangana Herath – they batted well and fought really hard."

Sri Lanka lost the first Test at Leeds as well, but the wicket for the second Test was a far better one to bat than on the previous occasion. "It wasn’t a 100 run wicket. There was much less grass than Headingley. It was not spinning much. It had a little bit of lateral movement, but there were no demons in the wicket. We could have got at least 250 on that wicket to give ourselves a chance in this game."

After the second day’s play, when Sri Lanka were 91 for eight, a dressing down by Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya and assessing things on their own helped the team for a better show. "It’s just the character we talked about. We talked about our character and the fight. We’ve been talking a lot about it, but unfortunately we didn’t show it on the field.

I thought we started showing it in the second innings while we were batting. We had a brilliant first day. We caught all our catches. But unfortunately started off day two by letting Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes off the hook. Then we had a really bad day towards the end of the second day – almost getting bowled out," Mathews further said.

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