Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 3rd day December 11, 2007

Jayawardene's records set up Sri Lanka



Leading from the front: 'Everyday you learn something out there when you play international cricket. You bring that into your game and make sure you improve' © Getty Images
The third day at the SSC couldn't have gone much better for Mahela Jayawardene. His unbeaten 167 led Sri Lanka to a 28-run lead over England with six wickets remaining and in the process he became his country's leading run scorer and set a new milestone for a single batsman at a Test venue, pushing Graham Gooch's Lord's record into second place.

However, in typical Jayawardene manner it was the team position that was more satisfying to him than the personal success. "It was important for us that we batted through the first session. England had put us under pressure by scoring 351 so we needed to make sure we bat through the day today without too many hiccups," he said. "Now we've got an advantage we need to push ourselves and go for a win if we really work hard tomorrow.

"On a wicket like this the second, third and fourth days are the best to bat on. Batting England out of the Test would be our first target which we've gone three quarter of the way to doing. We just need to make sure we push that advantage in a couple of more sessions by scoring a couple of hundred more runs. Then England cannot put us back under pressure. They need to make sure they save this Test match. It will be interesting to see what Murali can do on a fifth day wicket."

During the course of the day Jayawardene set up many records, surpassing Sanath Jayasuriya's tally of 6973 runs to become Sri Lanka's most prolific batsman and becoming the first Sri Lanka batsman to cross the 7000-run mark in Tests. He also equalled Aravinda de Silva's highest number of Test hundreds when he completed his 20th ton.

"I am very honoured to have passed Sanath's record. He's been a brilliant ambassador for us. He pushed the limits for a lot of youngsters in Sri Lanka cricket and challenged everybody," said Jayawardene. "I just need to work hard at my game. Everyday you learn something out there when you play international cricket. You bring that into your game and make sure you improve. As a team we try and work harder challenging ourselves individually to be better players. That's what it's all about."

With Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu recently retired, Jayawardene admitted there was more pressure on him and Kumar Sangakkara in the batting ranks to help the younger players settle in. "A lot of senior players have retired and there is a lot of responsibility on Kumar's and my shoulder. We work really hard to make sure we carry the team through this period so that the youngsters can come through. We've got some exciting talent behind us. We need to guide them in the right direction."

Jayawardene's innings took him past Gooch as the leading run scorer on an individual ground as the SSC remained a happy hunting ground. "I have played ten years of club cricket here. I know this wicket pretty well and enjoy batting here," he said. "It's value for your runs, a good outfield and brilliant atmosphere. If you stick to your basics and work around your stroke play and be patient, you can get a lot of runs here."

Jayawardene was the second Sri Lankan to reach three figures in the innings after Michael Vandort's 138 set up the strong platform. Vandort needed to steady the innings after two early wickets and paid tribute to the role of Jayawardene in their 227-run stand for the third wicket.

"Every Test innings is important but from the team's point of view we were 22 for 2 when Mahela joined me. He helped me a lot throughout the innings," he said. "We get along well in the middle because this is about the third or fourth century partnership we have put together. I have been playing a few rash shots during my innings and every time I did that he came and game me advice."