Score (Close of first innings): Sri Lanka 309-5 (Jayawardene 144, Sangakkara 69)
Mahela Jayawardene has a reputation as one of the nicest men in cricket but he displayed a mean streak to capitalise on being handed an early life in the second match of the NatWest Series.
Missed by Graeme Swann at slip on seven, Jayawardene provided England with a harsh lesson in pacing a 50-over innings, having inherited the opening role following the suspension of Upul Tharanga and latest in a catalogue of Sanath Jayasuriya retirements.
This was the 34-year-old’s 15th and biggest one-day international hundred, surpassing his previous high of 128 against India in October 2000.
He had only seven to his name, however, in a score of 16 for one, when a sliced square drive was parried above his head by Swann at slip off Tim Bresnan. To compound Bresnan’s misery, another edge later in the same over bounced short of Swann, evaded his clutches and raced away for four.
Never anything but graceful thereafter, he weaved the ball through the gaps, primarily consolidating, before accelerating in the smoothest fashion. His 50 came off 68 balls; his next 50 came at a run a ball; and his final 44 occupied only 32 deliveries.
It was the return of off-spinner Swann for the 46th over, immediately after Sri Lanka’s batting powerplay reaped 59 wicketless runs, that brought about Jayawardene’s demise: stumped, in giving himself room to hit over the off-side.
The same mode of dismissal accounted for Kumar Sangakkara, as one spun past the outside edge to terminate a 159-run alliance with Jayawardene for the third wicket. It also replicated Swann’s maiden international wicket less than four years ago, when Sangakkara was drawn out of his crease by a big ripper in Dambulla.
Alastair Cook, one of only three England survivors of the mauling Sri Lanka inflicted five years ago to the day on the very same ground, ensured there would be no repeat of the extraordinarily rapid pursuit of the 322-run target in 2006 by asking the tourists to bat first.
Cook would no doubt have envisaged his bowlers exploiting any morning moisture left in the surface yet the only successes within the first two and a half hours of the innings were identikit run-outs: Broad and Anderson diving in from mid-on to send back Tillakaratne Dilshan and the recalled Dinesh Chandimal respectively.
One game to the good, England’s chances of doubling their advantage was in the balance at the halfway point. The average first-innings scores in the previous five ODIs was 303, a total passed when Jeevan Mendis hooked the sole six of the innings in the final over.