AHEMDABAD:Mahela Jayawardene scored his sixth double-century as Sri Lanka seized control of the first Test against India here today.
Jayawardene was unbeaten on 204 as the tourists closed the third day at 591-5 in their first innings, a lead of 165 runs over India’s 426 with five wickets in hand. Sri Lanka, who have never won a Test on Indian soil, have two days to force victory with a bowling attack led by world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan and take the lead in the three-match series.
The batting-friendly pitch helped Sri Lanka record their highest total in India, surpassing the 420 all out in Kanpur during the 1986 series. Wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene joined the run-riot with an unbeaten knock of 84, helping his senior partner compile a record 216-run partnership. It was Sri Lanka’s best sixth-wicket stand, eclipsing the 189 by Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga against Zimbabwe in Colombo in 1997.
Jayawardene, who quit as captain earlier this year to concentrate on his batting, has kept vigil for eight hours and hit 17 boundaries and a six in his 27th three-figure knock. During the day, Jayawardene overtook Pakistanis Inzamam-ul Haq and Javed Miandad, and Graham Gooch of England, to become the ninth highest scorer in Test cricket with 8,951 runs from 108 matches.
His double-century brought him at par with his present captain Kumar Sangakkara, former team-mate Marvan Atapattu and Miandad, who all have six scores of 200 or more. Only Australian legend Don Bradman (12), West Indian Brian Lara (nine) and Englishman Wally Hammond (seven) have crossed 200 more times.
The Indian bowlers toiled as the barren pitch offered no assistance to either the fast bowlers or the spinners. The spinners proved the most expensive with Harbhajan Singh going for 1-151 and Amit Sharma returning wicketless at the cost of 152 runs.
Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera, who resumed at the overnight score of 275-3, put on 138 for the fourth wicket to build on opener Tillakaratne Dilshan’s century on the second day. Samaraweera was dismissed for 70, but Angelo Mathews (17) helped Jayawardene add 43 for the fifth wicket before falling to a controversial decision just before lunch. Mathews was declared caught at forward short-leg by umpire Daryl Harper even as replays showed the ball from Harbhajan bounce off the batsman’s pad.
India, however, failed to gain another wicket in the last two sessions as the two Jayawardenes overcame defensive tactics by the hosts to pile up the runs. Sri Lanka are playing three Tests, two Twenty20 matches and five one-day internationals.