England 351 Sri Lanka 379-4: Jayawardene's genius and vigilant Vandort grind England into dirt

England spent most of a soporific third day at the second Test yesterday watching the equivalent of a Little and Large pre-Christmas special but on this occasion, like a few others, there was precious little to laugh about. On a hot, sultry morning, and with a pivotal Test to be grasped, Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's diminutive captain, and Michael Vandort, the 6ft 4in opener, ground England's bowlers into the Colombo dirt, adding 227 for the third wicket.

The dismissal of Vandort for a vigilant 138 lifted England's spirits, but it was short-lived as Jayawardene, who batted through the entire day for a quite brilliant unbeaten 167, broke several records while taking his side to 379 for 4. The total gave Sri Lanka a first-innings lead of 28 and the chance to wrap up the three-Test series here, on a pitch that is offering spinners ever more assistance.

England worked hard in the field and it would be slightly unfair to be too critical of the bowlers, with the exception of Monty Panesar, who had another disappointing day. Ryan Sidebottom plugged away outside off stump, Stuart Broad continued to show promise and Stephen Harmison improved as the innings wore on, gaining reward for his effort just before the close when Chamara Silva gloved a snorter to Ravi Bopara, fielding in the gully.

On another day each could have picked up a wicket or two more. Several genuine edges failed to carry to fielders in the slip cordon and Panesar could have had Jayawardene out on 130, when a reverse-sweep appeared to feather his glove and lob up to Alastair Cook at short leg. The umpire Aleem Dar thought otherwise.

But no bowler was really a match for Jayawardene, who was majestic, overtaking the recently retired Sanath Jayasuriya, with 6,973 runs, to become the highest run-scorer in the history of Sri Lankan cricket. His love of batting at the Sinhalese Sports Club, a venue where he has now scored eight centuries, including a mammoth 374 against South Africa in 2006, took him to another record. By the end of the day Jayawardene's tally of runs here had reached 2,034, a total that means he has now scored more runs at a single ground than any other batsman. Graham Gooch, with 2,015 runs at Lord's, was the previous record holder.

Jayawardene is a batsman who has to be dismissed early, before he gets his eye in. While acclimatising he is prone to push at and edge good-length balls just outside off stump. But once he is set, and his judgement of what to play at and what to leave is secure, he is a difficult player to dismiss. Like all top players he just loves to bat and bat and bat, and he will have his eye on 250-plus today.

If criticism can be aimed at England's seamers it was in the opening few overs of the day, when Sidebottom and Harmison failed to make Jayawardene and Vandort play as many balls as they should. The sighters allowed the pair to reacquaint themselves with the benign piece of turf and lay the foundations for a potentially huge total.

Jayawardene is a fine player of fast bowling, but it is against spin that he really excels. Few batsmen possess touch and ability to pick length. The ability to judge where the ball will pitch allows him to get into position to play a shot early, and touch permits him to place the ball into gaps. There were stages when he appeared to be playing around with Michael Vaughan and Panesar, placing the ball in the spot from which where they had just moved a fielder.

The ease with which the Sri Lankans scored runs off Panesar caused Vaughan plenty of problems. It meant that he had to call on his faster bowlers in this heat and humidity fast bowlers need a lengthy rest after a five- or six-over spell and occasional bowlers more often than he would have liked.

If spinners are not taking wickets in Sri Lanka, they have to offer control. On two tours here Ashley Giles, England's much maligned former spinner, took 25 wickets in six Tests and conceded just 2.6 runs per over. Panesar wickets are currently costing him 48 runs each and he is yielding 3.2 runs per over.

Surprisingly, it was the bowling of Kevin Pietersen that troubled Sri Lanka's batsmen most. Pietersen is a tall man with a high action and he has so far got the ball to spin and bounce more than any other slow bowler in the Test. England will be hoping that it was the uniqueness of Pietersen that caused this to happen and that it is not a sign of things to come.

Pietersen spun the ball sharply past the edge of Vandort's bat several times but, as with occasional bowlers, there was also the odd bad ball that was smacked to the boundary. Vandort's fourth Test century and his second against England was brought up when he cut Pietersen for two and he appeared set for a career-best score until Sidebottom trapped him plumb in front with the second new ball.

Silva put on 128 with his captain before Harmison's bounce left him helpless, but by then Sri Lanka were 26 runs ahead. The wicket gave Harmison huge joy, but he will need to produce a few deliveries of similar spite this morning if England are to maintain any hope of winning the Test and levelling the series.

Shot of the day

Getting forward to Stephen Harmison is one of the hardest tasks but Mahela Jayawardene is in magnificent form. In the first over after lunch he got his left foot down the pitch and drove Harmison beautifully through mid-on for four.

Ball of the day

Harmison's reaction to dismissing Chamara Silva suggested few wickets have meant more to him. After 26 overs of hard work he pitched short the ball was heading for Silva's nose until his glove thumped it to gully.

Best moment

On the opening day a streaker ran on to the pitch. Yesterday we heard that at the police station he was told to strip and was then locked in a cell overnight, naked. Hopefully, that will put an end to these idiots acting in such a way.

Scoreboard from Colombo

Third day of five; England won toss

England First innings 351 (M Muralitharan 5-116).

Sri Lanka First innings (Overnight: 105 for 2)

M G Vandort lbw b Sidebottom 138

350 min, 259 balls, 18 fours, 1 six

*D P M D Jayawardene not out 167

503 min, 367 balls, 13 fours, 1 six

L P C Silva c Bopara b Harmison 49

180 min, 106 balls, 3 fours

J Mubarak not out 2

13 min, 5 balls

Extras (b5 lb6 w1) 12

Total (for 4, 546 min, 128 overs) 379

Fall (cont): 3-249 (Vandort),4-377 (Silva).

To bat: †H A P W Jayawardene, W P U C J Vaas, C R D Fernando, S L Malinga, M Muralitharan.

Bowling: Sidebottom 25-3-72-3 (w1) (8-0-27-2, 3-1-8-0, 3-0-17-0, 3-0-6-0, 5-1-12-1, 2-1-1-0, 1-0-1-0); Broad 25-4-63-0 (5-1-6-0, 6-2-13-0, 1-0-6-0, 5-0-15-0, 3-0-9-0, 2-0-6-0, 3-1-8-0); Harmison 28-8-67-1 (5-2-10-0, 10-3-22-0, 4-1-6-0, 1-1-0-0, 6-1-25-0, 2-0-4-1); Panesar 32-4-111-0 (5-0-22-0, 1-0-6-0, 7-0-30-0, 3-0-18-0, 14-3-34-0, 2-1-1-0); Pietersen 12-0-43-0 (10-0-35-0, 2-0-8-0); Collingwood 1-1-0-0; Bopara 5-2-12-0.

Progress: Second day: Tea: 25-2 (Vandort 10, D P M D Jayawardene 3) 11 overs. 50: 122 min, 22 overs. 100: 171 min, 37.1 overs. Bad light stopped play 5.02pm. Close 105-2 (Vandort 50, D P M D Jayawardene 43) 38 overs. Third day: 150: 226 min, 49.2 overs. 200: 294 min, 65.4 overs. Lunch: 200-2 (Vandort 106, DPMD Jayawardene 82) 66 overs. New ball taken after 80 overs at 248-2. 250: 358 min, 81.3 overs. Tea: 282-3 (DPMD Jayawardene 120, Silva 9) 94 overs. 300: 428 min, 97.4 overs. 350 in 490 min, 114.2 overs.

Vandort's 50: 171 min, 91 balls, 5 fours. 100: 279 min, 180 balls, 15 fours. D P M D Jayawardene's 50: 165 min, 125 balls, 6 fours. 100: 324 min, 203 balls, 9 fours. 150: 444 min, 309 balls, 12 fours, 1 six.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and D J Harper (Aus).

TV replay umpire: M G Silva.

Match referee: J J Crowe (NZ).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
This weekend's 'Big Hero 6' by Disney Animation Studios
arts + ents
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee