Providence (Guyana): Sri Lanka collected the prized scalp of Chris Gayle to strengthen their hold on the opening Test against West Indies on Sunday after their captain Mahela Jayawardene posted his 22nd Test hundred.
Left-arm fast-medium bowler Chaminda Vaas inflicted an early blow to the West Indies' batting, when he removed Gayle for the seventh time in Tests, as the home team reached 29 for one when stumps were drawn on the second day at the Guyana National Stadium.
In stark contrast, the fortunes were much richer for Jayawardene. He rode his luck to hit the top score of 136, and so too Vaas, to help the visitors reach 476 for eight declared in their first innings.
With a little over an hour remaining before the close, Sri Lanka could hardly believe their fortune, when Gayle was adjudged lbw to Vaas for a duck - his fifth against this opponent - playing half forward to a well-pitched delivery.
The Sri Lankans however, failed to make further headway when Ramnaresh Sarwan, playing his first Test in nine months, joined Devon Smith.
Vaas felt the weight of Sarwan's bat when the batsman played a silky drive through mid-off for his first boundary, and Rangana Herath also saw him execute a searing extra cover drive for another boundary.
But Vaas put some pressure on Smith, when he made him fend a rising ball to third slip, where Malinda Warnapura swooped low and half-heartedly claimed a low catch, but a subsequent referral to the video umpire gained the West Indies left-handed opener a reprieve.
Off-spin legened Muttiah Muralitharan also appeared to put Smith under the gun, when appealed for an lbw decision with the batsman on four, but umpire Billy Bowden ruled "not-out", although video replays seemed to suggest differently.
Earlier Sri Lanka continued from their bedtime total of 269 for four, and the batting of Jayawardene took centre stage.
The Sri Lanka captain reached his hundred when he turned his 189th delivery from Dwayne Bravo into mid-wicket for a single.
His innings was key to the balance of power, since he added 54 for the sixth wicket with his unrelated namesake Prasanna Jayawardene, who scored 21, and an important 126 for the seventh wicket with Vaas, who was unbeaten on 54.
Fortune favoured Jayawardene on two occasions however, during his innings which lasted just over six hours.
He saw a top-edged cut at a delivery from left-arm spin bowler Sulieman Benn fly past his opposite number Gayle desperate grab at slip when he was 39, and on 126, Bravo dropped him at fine leg off Gayle when he essayed a sweep.
Jayawardene never let them trouble him, and he soldiered on to be the glue that held his side's innings together, after West Indies removed Tillakeratne Dilshan in the first half-hour, when he was adjudged lbw to Jerome Taylor.
The two Jayawardenes then carried Sri Lanka to 330 for five at lunch, but not without incident, since Prasanna watched a short delivery from Bravo drop millimetres short of Benn at mid-wicket when he essayed a pull just prior to the interval.
West Indies claimed the second new ball immediately after the interval, and Powell struck in the first over, when he bowled Prasanna Jayawardene when the batsman drove loosely at a good delivery which moved back and sneaked 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 quickly assessed the conditions, and proceeded to grind away for the remainder of the afternoon period to help Jayawardene carry Sri Lanka to 418 for six at tea.
After the break, Jayawardene and Vaas continued to plunder the West Indies bowling, and put Sri Lanka in an impregnable position.
Jayawardene's rich vein of luck soon ran out, when he tried to reverse sweep Gayle and was dubiously adjudged lbw, but video replays revealed that Bowden probably erred, since the ball struck gloves of the batsman and came nowhere near his pads.
Gayle added the scalp of Thilan Thushara caught at deep mid-wicket for a duck, but Vaas drove Benn to long-off for a single to reach his 50, and a few flourishing strokes from Rangana Herath hasten the declaration.
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.