Mahela Jayawardene smashed an unbeaten 140 as Sri Lanka regrouped after early strikes to post 305-5 on the first day of the series-deciding second Test against South Africa on Thursday.
Jayawardene, 37, hit 16 fours and a six in his nearly six-hour stay at the wicket to pull up Sri Lanka from a shaky 16-2 after the hosts opted to bat on a docile track at the SSC ground. This was Jayawardene’s 11th century at the ground, the most by any batsman at a single venue.
He also joined India’s Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara of the West Indies at tied fifth on the list of highest Test century makers with 34.
The stylish right-hander, due to retire from Test cricket next month, shared 99 runs with opener Kaushal Silva (44) and another 133 runs with skipper Angelo Mathews (63) for the fourth wicket.
Mathews, who promoted himself up the batting order, played patiently before nicking to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock off part-time spinner Jean-Paul Duminy shortly into the final session.
Kithuruwan Vithanage, playing his fifth Test and first against South Africa, was peppered with short balls by the quicks until his misery was ended by seamer Morne Morkel (1-42) who had him caught by AB de Villiers for 13.
The South African bowlers toiled on an unresponsive batting pitch at the Sinhalese Sports Club as Sri Lanka added 97 runs in the afternoon session. Steyn (2-55) sent back opener Upul Tharanga and big-hitter Kumar Sangakkara for a golden duck in his sharp four-over opening spell.
Duminy (2-58) accounted for the third wicket to fall in the morning, dismissing Silva for a well-made 44 off 73 balls.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 305-5 (M Jayawardene 140 not out, A Mathews 63) v South Africa (D Steyn 2-55).