Angelo Mathews is playing his 95th Test match and is easily the most experienced player in the series in terms of number of matches. He has been a prolific batter in the middle-order for Sri Lanka for a long time, averaging around 45. He is one of the batters who have found almost equal amounts of success both at home and away.
But he didn't come into the first Test against Bangladesh with a lot of form. Before this match, he had only one fifty-plus score in his last 12 Test innings. He didn't do too well in the India tour recently.
The right-handed batter went back to Sri Lanka after that and played a first-class match that was part of the National Super League, a four-day competition, but couldn't open his account. The only practice game in Bangladesh before the commencement of the Test series was washed out due to rain. Moreover, he doesn't have much experience of playing red-ball cricket in Bangladesh.
There were a lot of question marks. But the former Sri Lanka skipper showed his class and control on a batting-friendly wicket. The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium is historically a happy hunting ground for batters and Mathews took full advantage of that. Since his arrival in the crease, it looked like a big score from him was on the cards.
Mathews was quite calculative in his approach. There was a period when runs were hard to come by as two spinners - Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam - were bowling in tandem. Mathews was scoring freely before Shakib came into the attack. But once Shakib started asking questions of batters, Mathews decided not to take chances against him. The right-hander took just nine safe singles off Shakib.
He was excellent against Taijul, another slow left-arm bowler. He scored a lot of his runs, 36 to be exact, off Taijul with the help of five boundaries. Mathews looked to play with a straight bat while going for shots against Taijul. Four of those five fours came from the 'V'.
He took Nayeem Hasan, who took two wickets in the first session, down as well. Mathews, known to be very strong through the covers, struck two boundaries through that region against the spin. He played well with the spin too, hitting a six over long on off Nayeem.
Mathews, a strong player off pace, enjoyed batting against Khaled Ahmed and Shoriful Islam too, hitting them for boundaries at will. He notched up his 12th Test hundred by smashing Shoriful for a four immediately after the new ball was taken. He stitched important partnerships with Kusal Mendis and later Dinesh Chandimal to ensure they didn't give away too many wickets on a good pitch.
Two batters who favour Bangladesh - Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva - couldn't carry on and so the onus was on Mathews to help Sri Lanka post a good first-innings total. But the job is not yet done and the experienced campaigner will be keen to convert it into a much bigger one.