Joy of six for Jayawardene
Prasanna Jayawardene says he loved the pressure of batting at number six after his 112 underpinned Sri Lanka's first-innings total of 400 on the second day of the opening npower Test against England in Cardiff.
Some eyebrows were raised when Sri Lanka elected to go with six batsmen and five bowlers, with wicketkeeper Jayawardene promoted to number six, but the move paid off as new captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilan Samaraweera and watchful opener Tharanga Paranavitana also contributed half-centuries.
In reply, England reached 47 for one at the close - a deficit of 353 - after captain Andrew Strauss fell late in the day for 20.
Jayawardene's knock, his third Test ton in his first Test in England, spanned 168 balls and included 12 fours.
It was notable for its composure. He refused to be fazed by the movement the England seam trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett were able to find during the morning session, and was happy to commit to his shots when the chance was offered.
He eventually departed after edging Broad to wicketkeeper Matt Prior as he looked to score quickly while batting with the tail.
The 31-year-old could not understand those who felt that his promotion up the batting line-up, as well as the presence of several wicketkeeping choices in the squad, would put him under increased scrutiny.
He said: "I love handling pressure. I don't know why everyone thinks that I am under pressure because I have always proved myself when I have played for Sri Lanka.
"It is a new challenge for me; normally I bat at seven but all the management have supported me and I think I have rewarded it.
"Everyone wants to get a hundred in England. I think I had some luck. I knew I had a good chance but I didn't think about it. I just batted normally and I am very happy about that.
"I scored 150 in India (in 2009) but this is a special thing as I have been on many tours of England before but never got to play a Test, so I am happy to make a hundred in my first innings."
Jayawardene is hoping an inexperienced bowling attack can make further inroads into the England batting early tomorrow.
"We have a good total and we got a big wicket," he said. "We need to be fresh tomorrow, do our basics with the ball, and if we do that we can make a big difference."
Jayawardene also praised the approach of interim head coach Stuart Law, who has taken the reins following the resignation of Trevor Bayliss.
He said: "We have a new coach who has a plan and he is working towards that. He likes to try new things and everyone is backing him.
"I started the two games and we won the two warm-up games and all staff members supported me really well. They know my skills and I think I have proved to everyone what I can do."