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Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st Test, Colombo

Jayawardene determined to grind South Africa down

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

July 28, 2006

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Mahela Jayawardene celebrates his 200 © AFP
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The Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara complimented each other on their superb performances after establishing a record third-wicket partnership of 471 in the first Test against South Africa at Colombo.

Their remarkable stand surpassed the previous record of 467 by the New Zealand pair of Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe, ironically made against Sri Lanka, in 1990-91. Sangakkara was unbeaten on 229, just 51 away from his career best while Jayawardene finished on 224.

Jayawardene admitted that they did not know they had broken the world record until the end of the day. "Till then we didn't know to be honest. We just batted sessions," he said. "We knew that Kumar was involved in a 400-run partnership in Zimbabwe. That was one of our targets when we came for tea, whether we can break it.

"We understand each others game so it is easier to advise if one of us isn't going according to the game plan. That helps a lot. The left-hand/right hand combination also helped because it was not easy for the bowlers to stick to one line."

Despite breaking records, Jayawardene played down its significance while praising his bowlers who yesterday dismissed South Africa for a paltry 169.

"The important thing for us yesterday and today was to consolidate on the advantage that we had from the first day. Our bowlers bowled really well," he said. "If South Africa had got off to a good start we probably would have been still fielding. Hats off to the bowlers, they did a splendid job.

"Once we had that advantage it was very important that we bat through today. That was our plan in the morning. Where we are right now we are very happy to keep going on [to] push for a win.

"Tomorrow, the first half-an-hour is vital. Our work is not finished yet. We've got the South Africans down. We want to make sure they stay down."

Sangakkara was similarly confident, and suggested Sri Lanka could bat well in to the third day in order to put South Africa completely out of the game, if they aren't already.

"[It is] a fantastic batting track," he said "We have the advantage to get well ahead and really put South Africa out of the game without a chance of getting back. It's important as a psychological edge when they do come into bat tomorrow they see 400-500 runs on the board and Sri Lanka having an innings to bat in hand."



Kumar Sangakkara played brilliantly to bring up his fourth Test double hundred © Getty Images
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The pair is 126 runs shy of erasing the world record of 576 runs for any wicket in Test cricket which is currently held by two other Sri Lankans, Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama, against India in 1997.

"We hope to get our best individual scores out of the way first and then think about getting to the world record. It all depends," said Jayawardene. "We are not going to set any goals for tomorrow. It is the first half and hour and then a session at a time. If we get there it will be brilliant if not we will be still happy with the effort."

South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher described the day as "very frustrating" and added: "It was one of those days in Test cricket. In the change room all the guys were pretty down. A lot of cricketers have been through this in Test cricket and there is nothing much you can do. If you give 100 percent throughout the whole day and things don't go your way what can you do? You wake up in the morning and give 100 percent the next day as well. So be it."

Although the situation seems hopeless with Sri Lanka holding onto a 316-run lead with three days remaining, Boucher was optimistic.

"We are up against it no doubt. I don't know how much they [are looking to get]. Our backs are up against it," he admitted. "Trust me: if we go down we'll go down fighting. We managed to hold off Australia at Perth and draw. It was a great feat for us as a side and gave us a lot of confidence. The conditions are different here and a couple of us are off the ball. But anything is possible in this game of cricket. Hopefully we can try and fight it out."

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