Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jayawardene Century Holds Up England after a Stunning Start

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jayawardene Century Holds Up England after a Stunning Start

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Cricket Correspondent in Galle

Cricket brought to you in association with [bar] T one of the most spectacular grounds in world cricket, England were today trying to give their thousands of travelling supporters a performance to match.

The tourists' latest attempts to master Asian conditions produced an absorbing day's play, in which England bowled well but were held up by a fine century from Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene.

The imposing Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, overlooks the field and the Indian Ocean is almost close enough to be reached with a well-timed hook shot. There could be no better setting for England to rebuild their Test winter in front of nearly a full house of 8,000, the majority of whom were supporting the tourists.

Flags and banners were draped over the fort's ramparts and around the ground, one declaring support for Mansfield Town FC, another for Durham County Cricket Club and one simply for Billericay. The contrast from the sterile, deserted stadia of the United Arab Emirates, where England were whitewashed 3-0 in Tests by Pakistan earlier this year, could not have been sharper.

Even after being asked to field first in 33[degrees]C temperatures, England seemed to take heart from the scene that greeted them, and they took three wickets in the opening half-hour.

Thereafter, Strauss's team were persistent and disciplined and Samit Patel, on his Test debut, claimed the wicket of Dinesh Chandimal. Patel, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann formed a rare three-man spin attack but all were dealt with confidently by Jayawardene, who reached his 30th Test century in a little more than four hours to help Sri Lanka reach 211 for seven as stumps approached.

It was an innings of typical judgement and class, in which he also enjoyed some good luck, notably when Jimmy Anderson put down a caught-and-bowled chance with Jayawardene on 90.

Given the early events in the match, it was vital for Sri Lanka that Jayawardene should play such a knock. Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan had come and gone before some supporters were even in the ground, confusion surrounding the ticketing policy here.

Sri Lanka cricket officials had angered both England supporters and local fans by apparently setting the minimum price at 5,000 rupees (about [pounds sterling]25), which is far higher than has been charged here in the past. Today, however, there were unconfirmed reports that some fans had entered for much less.

Such matters were some way from England's thoughts as they contemplated a fine first hour. In the third over, Thirimanne edged Anderson to Swann at second slip to give the bowler his 250th Test wicket and Sangakkara nicked Anderson's next delivery to Matt Prior for a first-ball duck. …

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