Galle: Skipper Mahela Jayawardene crafted a classy century to steer Sri Lanka out of trouble on the opening day of the first Test against England in Galle on Monday. Jayawardene hit an unbeaten 168 as the hosts recovered from a disastrous 15-3 by the fourth over to move to 289-8 by stumps at a Galle International Stadium packed with some 8,000 English supporters.
Fast bowler James Anderson claimed two wickets off successive balls in his second over and new-ball partner Stuart Broad chipped in with the third after Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat.
Jayawardene retrieved the situation by adding 52 for the fourth wicket with Thilan Samaraweera (20) and 61 for the fifth with young batsman Dinesh Chandimal (27). Tailender Rangana Herath contributed just five runs in an eighth-wicket stand of 62 with his captain, who reached his 30th century with a paddle sweep off Graeme Swann for a boundary.
As the bowlers wilted under the hot sun, England were left to rue three dropped catches -- two by Monty Panesar and one by Anderson -- that reprieved Jayawardene.
The Sri Lankan captain has so far hit 20 boundaries and three sixes.
Jayawardene surpassed Australian legend Don Bradman's tally of 29 Test hundreds and moved to fourth place among those still playing at the top level behind Sachin Tendulkar (51), Jacques Kallis (42) and Ricky Ponting (41).
Number 10 Chanaka Welegedara kept Jayawardene company at stumps on 10, the pair having added 36 valuable runs. Anderson, who had a review for leg-before wicket against opener Lahiru Thirimanne turned down in his first over, removed the left-hander in his second over to make Sri Lanka 11-1.
Thirimanne hung his bat out to edge an easy catch to Swann at second slip and give Anderson his 250th wicket in his 67th Test.
The fast bowler added to the tally off the next delivery as veteran Kumar Sangakkara edged a rising ball to wicket-keeper Matt Prior. Mahela Jayawardene denied Anderson a hat-trick with a defensive push, but lost his partner Tillakaratne Dilshan in Broad's next over.
Dilshan, who edged Broad twice over third-man for boundaries, was caught by England captain Andrew Strauss at first slip as he attempted another wild stroke. Samaraweera stayed with his captain till lunch, but fell soon after resumption when he was run out, backing up too far at the non-striker's end when Anderson deflected a ball on to the stumps.
Chandimal, a 22-year-old playing only his third Test, got off the mark with a six off Panesar over mid-wicket and played fluently on both sides of the wicket to boost the total.
Debutant Samit Patel earned his first Test wicket when Chandimal holed out to the cover region while trying to loft the left-arm spinner out of the ground.
Wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene added 42 for the sixth wicket with his captain before he was trapped leg-before by Anderson for 23. Panesar conceded just 42 runs in his 23 overs, but Swann's 23 wicketless overs cost 92 runs on a pitch that is already providing uneven bounce. (AFP)