Sussex v Sri Lankans, Hove, 3rd day May 20, 2006

Rayner holds up Sri Lanka after Malinga burst

Cricinfo staff

Sri Lankans 521 for 5 dec and 5 for 1 (Mubarak 0*, Sangakkara 2*) lead Sussex 262 (Rayner 101, Malinga 5-79) by 264 runs

Oliver Rayner celebrates his century on first-class debut © Getty Images
Lasith Malinga took five wickets to stake his claim for a place in the second Test at Edgbaston, but the Sri Lankans were held up by a century on first-class debut from Oliver Rayner. Despite having a lead of 259, Mahela Jayawardene opted not to enforce the follow-on and Sri Lanka lost Michael Vandort before the close.

It will be Rayner, though, who will remember the day. He came in with Sussex in all sorts of trouble at 98 for 6 following a fiery spell from Malinga that tore through the middle order. Rayner added 45 with fellow debutant Neil Turk, but the major stand came with James Kirtley, who helped combine for a ninth-wicket partnership of 71 in 26 overs

Rayner, 20, who was born in Germany, struck 12 boundaries and six - off Thilan Samaraweera - during his innings and became the first Sussex player since 1920 to score a century on first-class debut.

From Sri Lanka's point of view the performance of Malinga was another major plus to come from this match following the centuries by Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Kapugedera. The Sri Lankan seamers at Lord's lacked firepower so Malinga's burst in the morning session, when he took three batsman in quick succession, has made his inclusion on Thursday all the more likely.

The other bowling was less threatening, although Nuwan Kulasekara claimed a tidy three-wicket haul and Nuwan Zoysa a couple. Jayawardene went through eight bowlers - including himself - as the Rayner-Kirtley stand built.

Faced with a short period before the close, Vandort missed the chance to press his own Test claims and it remains to be seen whether Sri Lanka use the final day for batting practice or decided to make a game of it.