England on top despite brilliant Jayawardene
James Anderson led the charge as England enjoyed a fine opening day in the first Test against Sri Lanka despite Mahela Jayawardene’s defiant unbeaten century.
Anderson never looked back after claiming wickets with back-to-back deliveries in the day’s third over, the first of which ensured he became the only England bowler to reach 250 five-day wickets in 30 years and sixth overall.
The last man to achieve the feat was Sir Ian Botham - in 1982 - and the Lancastrian may now have his sights set on the great all-rounder’s final haul of 383.
He ended the day on 252, having claimed 3-56 as Sri Lanka closed on 289 for eight in Galle after electing to bat first.
That they managed that many runs was thanks to a masterful 168 not out from Jayawardene, whose classy innings contained an array of gorgeous drives and deflections, mixed with the odd strike over midwicket.
Anderson twice dropped difficult chances to remove the hosts’ skipper - on 65 and 90 - and Monty Panesar also shelled opportunities when Jayawardene was on 146 and 152.
After England used a review in Anderson’s first over, the seamer struck a huge blow to the hosts with wickets from back-to-back deliveries in his next.
First to go was Lahiru Thirimanne, who nicked to Graeme Swann at slip. Kumar Sangakkara then drove loosely and edged to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Undeterred, Tillakaratne Dilshan was playing with reckless abandon and, having enjoyed some good fortune, edged Stuart Broad to a gleeful Andrew Strauss at slip.
Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera then began a patient rebuilding effort in the face of some economical bowling.
Just one run came off Panesar’s first six overs, though the shackles were broken somewhat as Jayawardene launched Swann over wide mid-on for six.
England then lost their last review when Swann hit Jayawardene’s pad - umpire Rod Tucker’s not-out verdict being upheld as the ball was only clipping leg stump.
Samaraweera began to find some fluency prior to lunch but was run out, backing up, for 20 after the interval by a fortuitous Anderson, who was not attempting to deflect the ball on to the stumps.
Jayawardene responded with three beautifully-timed fours in the seamer’s next over and Dinesh Chandimal followed that up by slog-sweeping Panesar over midwicket for a maximum.
Samit Patel, on Test debut, was victim of a repeat effort from Chandimal - this time over mid-on - before Jayawardene brought up his fifty with a brilliantly-placed drive through cover from a Panesar full-toss.
But the former’s adventure eventually proved his undoing as, attempting another slog-sweep, he top-edged Patel to cover - where Ian Bell took the catch - and fell for 27.
Prasanna Jayawardene was beaten all ends up by Panesar soon after, and Swann almost removed his half-centurion namesake with a delivery that spun and reared off a length to catch the glove; Anderson dropped a difficult chance, diving backwards at slip.
Anderson grabbed his third wicket immediately after tea, finding some reverse swing to trap Prasanna Jayawardene - who unsuccessfully reviewed the decision - leg before for 23.
Sri Lanka caused themselves further problems when mis-communication between Mahela Jayawardene and Suraj Randiv allowed Strauss to swoop at cover and run out the latter with a direct hit.
With Jayawardene on 90, Anderson dropped a tough caught-and-bowled opportunity and was punished by the batsman, who struck a glorious six over midwicket off the next delivery.
He brought up his 30th Test century with a paddle sweep for four in the following over, and quickly set about upping the tempo, illustrated by another six over midwicket off Swann.
Jayawardene brought up the fifty partnership with Rangana Herath, who had contributed just five, with another clever sweep and continued to clip England to all parts with an effortlessness that belied his colleagues’ struggles.
The re-introduction of Patel brought about a breakthrough as Herath was trapped in front, after which Panesar dropped Jayawardene twice in as many overs, the first at fine-leg yielding four runs and heralding the batsman’s 150.
There were no further alarms as Jayawardene and Chanaka Welegedara, unbeaten on 10, prospered through to the close.