Sublime Mahela tames Proteas’ pace barrage

2014-07-25 00:00

LAST time the Proteas encountered Mahela Jayawardene at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo (2006) he made 374.

Yesterday, on the first day of the second Test, he was on his merry way once more, undefeated on 140 in a total of 305-5. He spent a chanceless six hours at the crease, hitting one six and 16 fours from 225 balls.

This after the hosts were 16-2 after five overs, having won the toss and taken first strike.

Needing to make the play to level the two-Test series, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Matthews needed his batsmen to create a solid platform from which to attack in the remaining days.

Fresh from their success in Galle, the Proteas named an unchanged side and the reliable Dale Steyn set the tone early on. He removed opener Upul Tharanga (11) with a snorter that came off his glove for ’keeper Quinton de Kock to snaffle and had Kumar Sangakkara caught first ball.

The great Sangakkara looked unsure in trying to loft Steyn over mid-wicket where Imran Tahir took the catch, but Jayawardene stemmed the tide in sublime fashion.

Proteas fast bowling coach Allan Donald must have had visions of another day belonging to his men, but the hosts recovered with aplomb.

“Jayawardene showed his class,” said Donald. “To have them two down, which included Sangakkara, and then Jayawardene to played the way he did, was superb.”

Jayawardene weathered the storm from his first ball, never looking rattled. He worked Steyn’s hat-trick ball to fine leg for four and was on his way.

Partnerships of 99 with Kaushal Silva (44) and 131 with Mathews (63) kept the Proteas busy in the field.

“Jayawardene has a great record at this ground and scores big hundreds,” said Donald. “Our focus today will be to get him early, but we have to be patient. We have a new ball and discipline in our skills and attitude is vital.”

Other than Steyn’s two wickets, Morné Morkel and Vernon Philander toiled on an unresponsive pitch. Morkel struck late in the day to remove Kithuruwan Vithanage (13) while Philander was unrewarded. Of the spinners, JP Duminy’s knack for picking up wickets continued as he bagged 2-58. His wickets came at vital times and once again, he overshadowed leg-spinner Imran Tahir who went wicketless from 24 overs which produced 92 runs.

Proteas captain Hashim Amla will be hoping the pitch offers something early today, otherwise the visitors will be batting to survive in the match.

They can afford to though, already one-nil ahead and on the brink of a historic first Test series win in Sri Lanka.

Today’s play is telecast on SuperSport 2 from 6 am.


Sri Lanka first innings

U Tharanga c De Kock b Steyn11

K Silva c de Villiers b Duminy44

K Sangakkara c Tahir b Steyn0

M Jayawardene not out140

A Mathews c De Kock b Duminy63

K Vithanage c De Villiers b Morkel13

N Dickwella not out12

Extras: (b-10, kb-10, nb-2)22

Total: (five wickets, 86 overs)305

Fall: 1-16 2-16 3-115 4-246 5-285

Bowling: Steyn 15-2-55-2, Philander 16-5-33-0 (nb1), Morkel 16-2-42-1 (nb1), Tahir 24-3-92-0, Duminy 14-1-58-2, Elgar 1-0-5-0.

Mahela Jayawardene:

• Joined Brian Lara and Sunil Gavaskar with 34 Test centuries.

• Scored his 11th hundred at the Sinhalese ground. This is the most centuries by a player on one ground. Next best are Donald Bradman and Jacques Kallis with nine at the MCG and Newlands respectively.

• His 131-run partnership with Mathews is the highest fourth-wicket stand for Sri Lanka against South Africa.

• In his 26th match at the ground, Jayawardene has scored 2 838 runs, with 11 hundreds and eight fifties, and has a best of 374 and averages 81,08.

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