167 v New Zealand, Galle, June 1998
By stumps on day three of the second Test
the inadequacy of New Zealand's first-innings 193 becomes clear: Sri Lanka are ahead with seven wickets in hand and Jayawardene, 21, shows remarkable technique and control for his unbeaten 88. Next day, his captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, nurses him through the nineties to a magnificent maiden Test century that sparks off wild celebrations. The players hug in mid-pitch, a policeman sets off a rocket and, with remarkable timing, a hot-dog vending machine blows up, sending clouds of smoke across the pavilion. But Jayawardene, in only his fourth Test, is not finished yet, and pushes on to a superb 167. He shows the temperament and personality to succeed on the international stage. The next highest score is in the thirties as Sri Lanka total 232. New Zealand fail, in four sessions, to even hit the 130 necessary to make Sri Lanka bat again. Jayawardene is the Man of the Match.
120 v England, Adelaide, January 1999
In an ODI
remembered for the controversy of umpire Ross Emerson calling Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing and Ranatunga leading his side off the field, Jayawardene chooses the hottest of times to hit his maiden hundred and help Sri Lanka home by one wicket and two balls left. Chasing 303, Jayawardene crafts 120 from 111 balls before the tail inches home.
242 v India, Colombo, February 1999
Jayawardene converts his second Test hundred into a maiden double in just his seventh Test
. Having more or less cemented the No. 3 spot after Asanka Gurusinha's exit from Test cricket, Jayawardene displays the temperament and shots for the long innings. He bats 677 minutes and faces 465 balls overs three days for his 242, hitting 30 fours and a pair of sixes. India pay dearly for dropping Jayawardene five times, the first at 25. He holds the innings together - the only other man to cross 50 is Arjuna Ranatunga - and ensures the game is drawn. Is last out at 485 having reduced India's lead to 33.
167 v South Africa, Galle, July 2000
After Sanath Jayasuriya goes for 148, Jayawardene walks in
and displays marvellous technical skills, confirming his reputation as the future of Sri Lankan batting with 167 in five-and-a-half hours. He never has to wait longer than six balls for a bad one, and finishes with 22 fours and two sixes. He and Chaminda Vaas put on 117 for the eighth wicket, a Sri Lankan record against all-comers, helping them towards the first 500-run total in Tests between these sides.
116 v New Zealand, Sharjah, April 2001
Sri Lanka are reeling at 1 for 2
in the first over before Jayawardene and Jayasuriya combine to add 184. Jayasuriya is the aggressor but Jayawardene is cool, calm and collected during his 116 from 129 balls that fetches him the Man-of-the-Match award. Sri Lanka win by 106 runs.
237 v South Africa, Galle, July 2004
South Africa begin the second day of the first Test
full of hope after a late double-strike with the new ball the previous evening and the match is intriguingly poised with Sri Lanka 279 for 7. But Jayawardene, with help from Vaas, powers his side into the box seat with a fine 237. After playing himself in meticulously and patiently, and negotiating the key threat of Shaun Pollock, he clicks into top gear with slow-motion pulls and elegant lofted off-drives. South Africa end up drawing the Test.
94* v India, Dambulla, August 2005
Sri Lanka are 95 for 6
in the 26th over chasing 222 against India when Jayawardene shrugs off a wretched run of form to take Sri Lanka home with an unbeaten 94. Jayawardene bats without blemish after Harbhajan Singh misses a glaring chance to run him out for ten, and crosses his his first half-century in 19 games. It is a cool and calculated innings that sets the tone for another gem in the final and a Man-of-the-Series award.
61 and 119 v England, Lord's, May 2006
After top-scoring in the first-innings with 61, Jayawardene helps get Sri Lanka out of jail in quite brilliant fashion when England make them follow on
. Trailing by 359 runs after lunch on day three, the visitors survive 199 overs and three new balls on a declining Lord's surface, and it all starts with the captain. Dropped on 58, Jayawardene bats more than six hours for 119 to se the tone for an awesome rearguard innings in which seven batsmen score 50, for only the third time in Test history. That defining innings sets the tone for a drawn series.
374 v South Africa, Colombo, July 2006
Jayawardene takes his love affair with South Africa at home to another level. With best buddy Kumar Sangakarra for company, he destroys 143 years of Wisden records with a third-wicket partnership of 624
, the highest for any wicket in first-class cricket. Jayawardene makes 374, the fourth-highest Test innings (and highest by a right-hander), batting with efficiency and class through the second and third days. With unblinking concentration, Jayawardene times almost everything off the middle of the bat, looking relaxed and elegant. Having passed Jayasuriya's 340 against India, Jayawardene approaches Brian Lara 400's but falls 26 short, bowled by one that scuttles along the ground. He bats for 752 minutes, faces 572 balls, and hits 42 fours and a six.
123 v South Africa, Colombo, July 2006
Just after his epic 373 Jayawardene plays, in the context of the game, a better innings. Sri Lanka, chasing 352
, are in trouble at 201 for five, with Jayawardene the only specialist batsman left. Crucially, Herschelle Gibbs drops Jayawardene in the gully when he is on two. Jayawardene starts slowly, playing himself in with assiduous care after a reckless waft in the first innings, but eventually settles into a serene rhythm. His shot selection and execution are close to impeccable, and throughout he remains calm and composed, never afraid to play strokes when the opportunity arose. Jayawardene guides Sri Lanka is to the brink of victory by lunch on the final day, but departs when only 19 more are needed with four wickets remaining. Sri Lanka clinch a thriller.
115* v New Zealand, Jamaica, April 2007
In the first semi-final
of the 2007 World Cup Jayawardene produced an innings of pure class, a rare gem, when it was most needed. He is raw to begin with, carefully negotiating dot balls, reaching 17 off 47 balls, but then scores 23 in as many balls before slamming 60 off 30. Not for a second does he doubt his ability as the best bat in the team, oozing confidence and playing each shot with control. He finishes with 115 from 109 deliveries as New Zealand are brushed aside.