Jayawardene's hundred beefs up Sri Lanka total

Published: Monday, March 24, 2008, 1:13 [IST]
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Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene hurt West Indies when he collected his 22nd Test hundred before tea to keep his side on course for a formidable total in the opening Test on Sunday.

Jayawardene was unbeaten on 120 and Chaminda Vaas was not out on 26, as Sri Lanka, who chose to bat on the opening day, reached 418 for six in their first innings at the break on the second day at the Guyana National Stadium.

Typically Jayawardene showed immense powers of concentration throughout his 4-1/2 hour innings and reached his hundred when he turned his 189th delivery from Dwayne Bravo into mid-wicket for a single.

The Sri Lanka captain benefitted from some ragged West Indies fielding throughout his innings, and came close to losing his wicket before lunch.

On 39, he top-edged a cut at a delivery from left-arm spin bowler Sulieman Benn and watched the ball fly past the desperate grab of his opposite number Chris Gayle at slip.

There were a few more close shaves, but Jayawardene literally dropped anchor, and West Indies found it hard to make him budge. His unrelated namesake Prasanna Jayawardene and Vaas have been stable allies of Mahela Jayawardene.

The two Jayawardenes added 54 for the sixth wicket either side of lunch before Daren Powell claimed his first wicket of the match, when he removed wicketkeeper/batsman Prasanna in the first over after carry the pair had carried Sri Lanka to the interval on 330 for five.

Prasanna was bowled for 21 in the first over with the second new ball, driving loosely at a good delivery which moved back and sailed between his bat and pad.

Vaas arrived and had to weather an early storm from Powell and fellow fast bowler Jerome Taylor.

Vaas edged between third slip Bravo and gully Benn to third man for four off Taylor before he had scored, and then Devon Smith dropped him on four at third slip off the same bowler.

Like the other batsmen before him, Vaas did quickly assessed the conditions, and proceeded to grind away for the remainder of the afternoon period to add 88 - unbroken - with his captain.

Before lunch, Jayawardene had reached his 50, when he glanced Powell to deep fine leg for the last of his six boundaries to arrive at his landmark in the final hour before lunch, after Sri Lanka continued from their bedtime total of 269 for four.

The visitors had lost Tillakeratne Dilshan in the first half-hour, when he was adjudged lbw to Taylor for 20 playing half-forward and across a well-pitched delivery that moved back.

Prasanna Jayawardene joined his captain and they defied the now energised West Indies, but they were both fortunate.

After the captain survived his chance through slips, Prasanna enjoyed a bit of fortune just prior to the interval, when he essayed a pull at a short delivery from Bravo and it dropped millimetres short of Benn at mid-wicket.

The two Jayawardenes however, quickly regained their equilibrium and got back down to the business of building a formidable total.

Sri Lanka are aiming to win their first Test match in the Caribbean having lost two and drawn two in their previous four. The visitors are also eyeing a Test series victory for the first time in the Caribbean.

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