Colombo: Captain Mahela Jayawardene scored his second century in consecutive Tests as Sri Lanka recovered from an early slump to reach 238-6 against England at stumps on the opening day of the second Test on Tuesday. Jayawardene's 124-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Thilan Samaraweera (54) helped Sri Lanka recover from a precarious 30-3 after England seam bowler James Anderson (3-52) rattled the top order to give the tourists a promising start.
Jayawardene made 105 off 216 balls, hitting a six and 11 boundaries before being out lbw to offspin bowler Graeme Swann. He made a fighting 180 in the first innings of the first Test as well, which Sri Lanka won by 75 runs in Galle. Samaraweera, meanwhile, faced 129 balls and hit five boundaries.
Coming into bat under pressure when Sri Lanka had lost two successive wickets to Anderson in the fifth over, Jayawardene skillfully handled the early movement on the P Sara Oval pitch before launching his usual elegant strokes as the pitch flattened out. He survived at 79 when England captain Andrew Strauss failed to get his hands to a possible catch at slip.
England seam bowler Steven Finn said he was happy with his team's bowling effort despite Jayawardene's century. "Jayawardene obviously played very, very well; assessed the conditions excellently," Finn said. "I thought we, as a bowling unit, bowled good all day. Tomorrow morning, the first session is going to be very important. (We're) frustrated we couldn't get him (Jayawardene) out earlier. He scored a century but he didn't take the game away from us. To keep them to two and half (runs) an over throughout the day, I think, is a very good effort."
After Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat, Anderson dismissed openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (14), Lahiru Thirimanne (8) and Kumar Sangakkara for a first-ball duck for the second time in three innings. He first struck in the fifth over, Dilshan edging an outswinger to wicketkeeper Matt Prior. Next ball, Anderson had Sangakkara caught at slip by Strauss. Left-handed Thirimanne chose to not play at an inswinger and was trapped lbw. His review was unsuccessful.
England must win the match to avoid a series defeat and lose their No. 1 ranking in Test cricket to South Africa.