Jayawardene, Samaraweera hit tons to put Sri Lanka in control

February 21st, 2009 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Feb 21 (IANS) Skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera hit centuries as Sri Lanka took control of the proceedings on the opening day of the first cricket Test against Pakistan at the National Stadium here Saturday.

Jayawardene (136 not out) achieved a couple of milestones while Samaraweera scored his eighth ton to guide Sri Lanka to a sizeable 406 for just three wickets against an unimpressive Pakistani attack that lacked any venom.

Samaraweera was in even better form as he struck 21 fours on his way to an emphatic 155-ball unbeaten 130. Jayawardene and Samaweera put on 129 runs in an unbeaten fourth wicket partnership.

In what is Pakistan’s first Test in almost 14 months, the home team looked a bit unimpressive in the field as the bowlers failed to come up with a forceful showing while the fielders dropped catches.

The sloppy fielding helped Jayawardene’s cause as he ended his poor run of form with an authoritative 136 not out but not before getting three chances. He was dropped at 17, 43 and 123.

Jayawaredne, 31, became the first Sri Lankan batsman to reach the 8,000-run mark in Test cricket when he struck debutant pacer Sohail Khan for sweetly-timed boundary to reach 41 and the mark. He also became the first Sri lankan batsman to score a century against each of the other nine Test-playing nations.

He was dropped twice in the second session. First pacer Umar Gul failed to catch him off his own bowling and then Misbah-ul-Haq dropped him at slips off Sohail Khan. A few overs before stumps, former captain Shoaib Malik dropped him at first slip, again off Sohail.

The Pakistani bowlers had a poor day on the field. Medium pacer Yasir Arafat finished with 1-57 while Umar Gul took 1-82. Sohail was unable to impress much on his debut and gave away 105 runs off 16 overs and went wicketless. Danish Kaneria took 1-93 in 24 overs.

Earlier, opener Malinda Warnapura (59) and Kumar Sangakkara (70) hit sparking fifties to lay the foundation for a big total. Sri Lanka, who opted for first use of a perfect batting wicket on a sunny morning, lost their debutant opener Tharanga Paranavitana in the first over to Gul but a solid 90-run partnership for the second wicket between Warnapura and Sangakkara gave them a perfect platform to build on.

Paranavitana, 26, who replaced Michael Vandort after scoring 893 runs at 74.41 in the last domestic season, was unable to carry that form into Test cricket. He fell for a golden duck, edging an angling delivery to Misbah-ul-Haq at second slip.

But Warnapura and Sangakkara scored fluently against Gul and Sohail.

Warnapura, who put up his fifty off just 39 balls with the help of seven fours, fell to medium-pacer Arafat in the 18th over when he edged one to Misbah in the second slip. His 59 came off 48 balls with nine hits to the fence.

Sangakkara, who had scored three tons and two fifties against Pakistan in five previous Tests, continued to farm the strike after being joined by outgoing captain Mahela Jayawardene.

He completed his fifty off 84 balls after a 113-minute stay on the crease, just minutes before lunch.

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