Sri Lanka, already kings of the one-day game, are confidently waiting to crown one of their own as the new king of Test batting when the first Test against India resumes today.
Sanath Jayasuriya, the devastating left-handed opener who featured so prominently in their World Cup triumph last year, resumes at 326, only 50 away from the most coveted individual record in Test cricket, the 375 made by another left-hander, the West Indian Brian Lara against England in Antigua just over three years ago.
They are opening the gates at the imposing Premadasa Stadium free for the final day in the full expectation that Jayasuriya will achieve his goal.
He has so far batted 12 hours 55 minutes without bother or blemish on a batsman's paradise of a pitch on which 1,124 runs have been scored for nine wickets. The Indian bowling is uncomplicated and dispirited and there is no reason, except sheer mental and physical exhaustion, why Jayasuriya should not pass even Lara's other incredible standard, the overall first- class mark of 501.
It has been a marathon effort of skill and endurance by himself and his solid partner Roshan Mahanama who became the first pair in the long history of Test cricket to bat through two successive uninterrupted days. Mahanama, who joined Jayasuriya at the start of the third morning, was 211 at close, having shared the highest stand for any wicket in Tests, a monumental 548.
The enormity of Jayasuriya's achievement has been enhanced by the fact that he has been on the field for every ball.
His left-arm spin earned him his best figures in Tests, 3 for 45, while India accumulated their mammoth 537 for 8 declared over the first two days. He then padded up to start Sri Lanka's reply as the shadows lengthened on the second afternoon and has been in the middle ever since.
His intent has been clear all the way through. He has abandoned his six- hitting mode that makes him so dangerous in the one-day game to such an extent that he did not allow himself the liberty of a six until he was 291 and had faced 517 balls.
Only once has he been close to dismissal, at 265 when Australian umpire Steve Randell refused a justifiable lbw appeal off Chauhan.
Throughout the day records fell with the regularity of ripe mangoes. The more notable were Aravinda de Silva's 267 against New Zealand in Wellington that had stood as Sri Lanka's highest individual Test score since 1991, Sri Lanka's highest Test total, 547 for 8 declared against Australia here in 1992 and the best stand for any wicket in Tests, 467 between the New Zealanders Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe in the 1991 Wellington Test against Sri Lanka in which De Silva responded with his 267. All will fade into temporary obscurity should Jayasuriya reach his cherished goal today
INDIA - First innings 537 for 8 dec (Sachin Tendulkar 143, Navjot Sidhu 111, Mohammed Azharuddin 126, Rahul Dravid 69
SRI LANKA - First innings
(Overnight: 322 for 1)
S Jayasuriya not out 326
M Atapattu c Mongia b Kulkarni 26
R Mahanama not out 211
Extras (b7, lb7, nb6, w4) 24
Total (for 1) 587
To bat: A de Silva, A Ranatunga, M Jayawardena, R Kaluwitharana, C Vaas, R Pushpakumara, M Muralitharan, J Silva
Bowling: Prasad 21-1-73-0); Kuruvilla 11-2-47-0; Chauhan 52-7-159-0; Kumble 52-6-143-0; Kulkarni 46-9-113-1; Ganguly 5-0-34-0; Tendulkar 1- 0-20-0; Dravid 1-0-2-0.
Previous record Test partnerships
467 A H Jones (186) & M Crowe (299) New Zealand v Sri Lanka (Wellington)1990- 91
451 W H Ponsford (266) & D G Bradman (244) Australia v England (The Oval) 1934
451 Mudassar Nazar (231) & Javed Miandad (280*) Pakistan v India (Hyderabad) 1982-83
446 C C Hunte (260) & G S Sobers (365*) West Indies v Pakistan (Kingston) 1957-58
413 V Mankad (231) & Pankaj Roy (173) India v New Zealand (Madras) 1955- 56.Reuse content