Captain Mahela Jayawardene’s 168 not out steadied Sri Lanka after the fall of three early wickets and pushed the hosts to 289-8 against England in the initial day of their first cricket Test in Galle.
Jayawardene faced 290 balls and was dropped four times -- including twice by Monty Panesar within several overs in the afternoon -- while hitting his 30th Test century to rescue his team. Sri Lanka started 15-3 as Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara fell early.
“I’m quite happy with the effort today,” Jayawardene said in a televised interview. “The first session I had to dig deep because we lost wickets, but that gave me the mindframe to hang around and not play my shots. When we started to lose wickets, I could change my attack.”
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat. Jayawardene and Chanaka Welgedara, on 10, were batting at the end of the day.
James Anderson, 3-56 and Samit Patel, 2-27, led the English attack. Panesar and fellow spinner Graeme Swann failed to take wickets.
The teams are meeting in two Tests in the current tour, with the second match starting April 3 in Colombo.