Jayawardene, Dilshan flay New Zealand

GALLE: Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan pulverised New Zealand’s bowlers to help Sri Lanka make a spectacular start in the first Test today.

Jayawardene hit an unbeaten 108 and Dilshan smashed 92 off 72 balls in his new role as opener as Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka recovered from 16-2 to 293-3 by stumps on a rain-curtailed opening day. Jayawardene compiled his 26th Test century on the easy-paced wicket. Dilshan hit the fastest Test half-century by a Sri Lankan off 30 balls, upstaging former captain Arjuna Ranatunga’s 31-ball effort against India at Kanpur in 1986.

Jayawardene put on 118 for the third wicket with Dilshan and 159 for the undefeated fourth with Thilan Samaraweera (82 not out) after New Zealand seamer Chris Martin struck twice in his first two overs. Martin gave the Test a dramatic start when he had Tharanga Paranavitana, edging the third ball of the match to wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum. Martin then removed Kumar Sangakkara (eight), the Sri Lankan captain flicking a half-volley to the mid-wicket fielder.

The start of the Test was delayed by 90 minutes due to early morning rain, although the pitch and outfield remained unaffected under the covers. The umpires pushed back the lunch break by an hour to make up for lost time, but just 78 of the stipulated 90 overs were sent down before bad light forced play to end early.

Dilshan, who has batted in the middle order in all of

his previous 55 Tests, was promoted to open the innings

in order to accommodate fit-again keeper Prasanna Jayawardene. The right-hander hit eight fours and a six by the time he reached 51 in the 11th over in Sri Lanka’s total of 67-2.

Opening the batting was the multi-faceted Dilshan’s latest role after he donned the wicket-keeping gloves in the recent three Test-series against Pakistan due to Prasanna’s knee injury. Seamer Iain O’Brien, who bore the brunt of Dilshan’s assault and conceded 55 runs in his first six overs, denied the batsman his ninth Test century by bowling him off the inside edge soon after lunch.

But there was no further respite for the Black Caps

as Jayawardene and Samaraweera settled in to tame the tiring attack. Jayawardene reached his third century against New Zealand and the fifth at Galle when he pulled O’Brien to the square-leg fence for his 13th boundary.

O’Brien gave away 90 runs in his 14 overs, while off-spinner Jeetan Patel went for 60 in 15 overs. The Black Caps will play two Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and a limited-overs tri-series also featuring India during the five-week tour.