Play was stopped for several minutes as Mathews recovered from the impact. The incident evoked memories of the on-field death of Australian batsman Philip Hughes, who was hit by a similar delivery during a First-Class game at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Mathews continued to bat, but was forced to retire with an unrelated calf injury when he was on 28. He returned to the middle at the fall of the eighth Sri Lankan wicket and was last man out for 40.
Mathews like all members of the Sri Lankan squad at present uses the new helmet with extra protection called the stem guard. He was glad that he had the extra safety measure fitted onto his helmet.
"Since the unfortunate death of Philip Hughes there has been more awareness on using helmets that had passed the ICC safety standards," Mathews told yesterday.
"We started using it during the England tour. The new equipment is fitted onto the helmet. Our physiotherapist Steve Mount has advised all players to use it and we do so," Mathews added.
"Yesterday was a very unexpected blow. Thankfully I had the stem guard," Mathews further said.
"I see that most players in domestic cricket too are using the extra piece of equipment nowadays and it’s good. I hope cricketers across all levels start following suit."
Since Hughes’ death two years ago, extensive research has been done on providing equipment that ensures the safety of the players.
Mathews is unlikely to take further part in the series due to the calf injury. He was expected to return to Colombo yesterday. His injury will be assessed today in Colombo and Mathews suspects it to be a tear instead of a strain.
"I can’t walk at the moment. I get the feeling soon I will be walking on crutches," Mathews said.
The Sri Lankan captain reached new heights last month after he whitewashed Australia, world’s number one ranked team, 3-0. World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga praising Mathews said that he could go onto become the best captain produced by Sri Lanka.