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The Bulletin by Anand Vasu
July 28, 2006
Sri Lanka 485 for 2 (Sangakkara 229*, Jayawardene 224*) lead South Africa 169 by 316 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Twin double-centuries from Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene left Sri Lanka in control of the first Test against South Africa as they ended the second day on 485 for 2, thanks to a record unbeaten 471-run partnership for the third wicket. Their lead was 316 and with the pitch already taking turn, South Africa have a massive job on their hands if they are to stave off defeat.
The ease at the crease and grace of strokemaking of both batsmen made viewing a pleasure even as the runs came at a fast clip. Neither batsman looked to hit the ball hard, and after a watchful period in the start of the day they settled into a comfortable groove and picked off runs at will. And as the runs came the records tumbled. This partnership is now the second best in the history of Tests, only Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama with 576 against India are ahead of this pair. This partnership is also the best ever for the third wicket beating the 467 that Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe added against Sri Lanka.
To be fair to the South Africans the pitch was slow and the bounce was evenly on the low side. Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn ran in with enthusiasm, but even when they banged the ball in short of a length it barely rose past stump height. This meant that both Sangakkara and Jayawardene only had to pick the line early and they could then play whatever shot they wanted without fear of extra bounce beating the bat.
The Sangakkara-Jayawardene association was only Sri Lanka's fourth 300-plus partnership in Tests, and South Africa could do nothing to stop the march towards a big score that Sangakkara and Jayawardene were on. There were shades of that famous Test against India at the Premadasa Stadium in 1997 where Sri Lanka put on a massive 952 for 6 declared. Of course, they will not go that far in this Test, but it might feel just as terrible for South Africa's bowlers.
Sangakkara, who was dropped on 28 by Jacques Rudolph at gully received another reprieve, from the same gentleman, on 99. Dancing down the wicket to Nicky Boje, Sangakkara lofted to long-on without quite being to the pitch of the ball but Rudolph, running around, could not hold onto the catch.
When Mark Benson and Billy Bowden, the two umpires, took the players off at the end of the day it was almost an act of mercy. Sri Lanka had not lost a wicket all day, and reached 485, a lead of 316. Sangakkara (229 not out) and Jayawardene (224 not out) matched each other, run for run, stroke for stroke, and the two old friends appeared to be enjoying every moment of their stay at the crease. "When you're in you have to make the most of it," a tired Jayawardene said in a snap interview immediately after the day's play. And what's Sangakkara's secret? "I just like batting," he said, smile plastered across his face.
Already Ashwell Prince, South Africa's stand-in captain, has a massive task on his hands. Facing Muralitharan in the second innings is going to be a tough ask. Sri Lanka have plenty of time on their hands, and it is in their interests to bat on. After all, with some wear and tear already on the pitch, the ball is turning sharply from the rough. And it's hard to see any of the South African batsmen matching either of the two Sri Lankans on display today.
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