Jayawardene anchors Sri Lanka
Not for the first time Sri Lanka were thankful for a Jayawardene hundred today. That it came from the blade of Prasanna Jayawardene was the greatest surprise.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, supposedly the lesser of the two Jayawardenes, constructed a determined 112 to help the tourists to 400 on the second day of the opening npower Test at Cardiff.
He was the only one of four Sri Lankans able to convert a half-century into three figures, anchoring a middle- and lower-order resistance effort that caused England untold frustration.
Jayawardene followed the example of Thilan Samaraweera, who hit a combative 58, after Tharanga Paranavitana had fallen for 66, while Thisara Perera and Rangana Herath each made 25 to extend Sri Lanka’s innings deep into the evening session.
There was a further boon for Sri Lanka when Suranga Lakmal had Andrew Strauss caught at second slip in the day’s final over as England closed on 47 for one.
It capped a trying day on which little went right for Strauss’ side. The seamers regularly beat the bat, saw numerous edges and miscued strokes land safely, and a handful of borderline lbw decisions rejected.
The captain’s options were hampered by the absence of James Anderson, his premier pace bowler, who faces a scan on his back. Although he left the field complaining of stiffness after bowling just one over post-tea, he was fit enough to perform nightwatchman duties.
Neither was England’s cause helped by four dropped catches and a missed run-out, by Kevin Pietersen. The run-out aside, none of those chances could be described as anything less than extremely tough, but England will know they were some way short of their vibrant best in the field on their first outing of the summer.
Anderson, who bowled superbly once again this morning on a surface that remains placid, finished with 3-66; Graeme Swann profited from the tail’s aggression to claim 3-78; and Chris Tremlett deserved better than his 1-81 return.
Jayawardene faced 168 balls and hit 12 fours during an innings that, though occasionally reliant on fortune, nevertheless contained many admirable qualities.
Chief among them was application and a sound technique, both of which proved invaluable after he arrived at the crease following the departures of his more illustrious namesake, Mahela, and Paranavitana inside just over an hour’s play this morning.
Resuming on 133 for two, Sri Lanka had failed to add to their overnight score when Anderson located Mahela Jayawardene’s edge with one that swung in late. Strauss, despite initial hesitancy, took a smart catch to his right at first slip.
Paranavitana spent more than an hour adding eight runs to the 58 he made yesterday before he played on aiming a leaden-footed drive at a rare full delivery from Tremlett.
England could rightly be the happier of the two sides with Sri Lanka 159 for four, but Samaraweera, despite his early dalliances outside off stump - Alastair Cook spilled a devilishly difficult chance diving to his right at third slip with the batsman on 15 - played with growing freedom on his way to a 72-ball half-century.
His fifth-wicket stand with Prasanna Jayawardene, which encompassed lunch, was worth 84 when he edged Anderson to Swann at second slip in the first over with the second new ball.
Jayawardene would not be shifted, though, and England’s ire - Stuart Broad’s in particular - grew during an eventful passage of play that saw them waste both their referrals.
With Anderson unable to bowl, the introduction of Jonathan Trott inadvertently reaped dividends for England, the medium-pacer deflecting a Jayawardene drive on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Farveez Maharoof out of his ground.
Maharoof had added 45 with Jayawardene, who then shared partnerships of 68 and 51 for the seventh and eighth wicket respectively to emphasise the prowess of a Sri Lanka lower order that was dismissed in many quarters in the build-up to this game.
Perera swung lustily before he chipped to mid-on to give Broad his 100th Test wicket, and Herath - reprieved by TV umpire Rod Tucker when Strauss claimed what appeared to be a legitimate catch at first slip off Tremlett - was similarly effective as he accompanied Jayawardene to his third Test century, made off 147 deliveries.
Herath’s wicket was the first of three wickets to fall in as many overs. He slapped Swann to Trott at short extra-cover and Jayawardene was caught behind driving at Broad, who then flung himself to his left at mid-on to pouch Lakmal’s swipe at Swann.