Jayawardene (the other one) strains depleted English attack

Sri Lanka 400 England 47-1: Anderson sent for back scan and Broad struggles as Sri Lanka 'keeper hits century

When Sri Lanka's No 6 walked out yesterday it was generally assumed that the game was up.

Click HERE to upload graphic: Sophia Gardens Scoreboard (292.63kb)

He had a famous name but no pedigree at this pivotal spot in the middle order, previously occupied by some of the game's luminaries. Two wickets had fallen quickly, a new ball was due, the England foot was about to be applied to the Sri Lankan throat.

Three and a half hours later, the unheralded Prasanna Jayawardene was walking in the footsteps of giants. He scored a composed, virtually seamless hundred to ensure that the tourists had enough runs to push England hard in this first Test match of the summer, maybe to push them over the edge.

Jayawardene is no duffer but his batting career as Sri Lanka's wicket-keeper has largely been conducted at No 7, a different animal demanding a different outlook. He had scored two hundreds there, one against Bangladesh, one against India on an Ahmedabad flat 'un.

This was of a different order and it tested England's depleted bowling resources to the limit. The home side never quite reached the stage where they wondered where their next wicket was coming from, although the rejection of their two permitted reviews in successive overs made it a near thing.

A total of 400, managed only once by Australia in the winter, was probably not what England had in mind considering that the stars of the tourists' order, Kumar Sangakkara and the other Jayawardene (Mahela, no relation), contributed 15 between them. Only once, too, did any of Australia's 10 innings occupy more balls than the 722 Sri Lanka faced.

England, having eventually seen off the opposition, were left with 20 overs to bat. Their openers spent most of them as if they were preparing for the morrow until the captain, Andrew Strauss, was out in the last over as the home side closed 353 adrift. It was a return to the colours for Alastair Cook after his epic Ashes series and he looked determinedly well-appointed.

Jimmy Anderson, the bowling hero of the Ashes, spent most of the afternoon and evening off the field with a stiff back and went for the obligatory scan, the result of which will be known today. Scans notwithstanding, it seemed strange that Anderson should come out as nightwatchman to face five balls after Strauss's dismissal.

Anderson's absence had stretched a four-man attack dangerously thin, especially as Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann were out of sorts. Broad struggled again for sustained accuracy, but eventually garnered his 100th Test wicket. Swann seemed to lack his usual drift, but as an off-spinner operating in the first innings of a Test match a return of three wickets meant he could claim eminent respectability, which he presumably will on one of the social networking sites.

Sri Lanka took an audacious step in promoting Jayawardene to allow them to play five bowlers. If nothing else, it showed they had not come to defend. It was 159 for 4 at Jayawardene's entry into the arena and he proceeded to share partnerships of 84, 35, 68 and 51. Sri Lanka made the home side work hard for everything and England could claim that little went their way. When the ball was swinging in the morning, edges either did not go to hand or did not go near enough to be ensnared.

But the precious wicket of the elder Jayawardene, well caught at slip off a splendid ball from Anderson before the overnight score had been improved, was precisely the start England needed. Shortly afterwards, the obdurate Tharanga Paranavitana, who seemed a safe bet for a century, drove at a fuller- length swinging ball from Chris Tremlett and was bowled off an inside edge.

Here was where the innings reached its crossroads. A quick wicket for England and they would follow a route to victory which has become familiar to them. It was crucial for Sri Lanka to head them off and change direction. Between them, Thilan Samaraweera and Jayawardene plotted their course.

Samaraweera flirted perilously with the cordon round the bat, offering a distinctly sharp chance to Cook's left at third slip (prompting immediate recollections of Paul Collingwood's glories) and prodding close to Jonathan Trott at point.

But this was interspersed with some genial strokeplay and England were hapless after lunch when Trott bowled the final overs with the old ball and the tourists went after him. Anderson struck immediately with the new ball, finding enough bounce and away movement to find Samaraweera's edge and then almost as quickly left himself.

Farveez Maharoof survived several close calls including two appeals for lbw which were reviewed, one from Broad, one from Anderson, at which point the bowler's back must have been stiffer than his resolve. They were both close, but neither was close enough and umpires Aleem Dar and Billy Doctrove were not only vindicated but demonstrated again that the ICC elite umpires' list is not misnamed.

Only when Trott bowled again did Maharoof's luck turn. Nothing to do with Trott's bowling, but he did manage to touch a return drive from Jayawardene which went on to the stumps with Maharoof backing up and stranded.

Still England were made to wait as both Thisara Perera and Rangana Herath wielded a merry blade. Perera survived a run-out chance when Kevin Pietersen's underarm throw from cover missed and then drove low in to third slip's left hand. Herath seemed to have been caught at first slip, though replays determined otherwise.

Jayawardene batted his way on at the other end with impeccable calmness. He played correctly, as most of these tourists do, and was utterly unflustered on his way to three figures. He reached 100 with a neat flick for three to square leg, raised his helmet and beat his chest. It still means to something to score a hundred against England away from home, even if that is in Wales.

The last three wickets went for three runs, Jayawardene among them, driving wearily at Broad, but by then Sri Lanka had shown that they will be a considerable irritant this summer.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?