Sri Lanka takes charge against Pakistan

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Mahela Jayawardene scored his first Test century against Pakistan in his farewell series as captain and guided Sri Lanka to a commanding 406-3.

Updated: February 21, 2009 13:23 IST
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Mahela Jayawardene scored his first Test century against Pakistan in his farewell series as captain and guided Sri Lanka to a commanding 406-3 on the first day of the first cricket Test on Saturday.

Jayawardene - criticized for his recent poor run of form in limited-overs cricket - produced an unbeaten 136 while Thilan Samaraweera also made the best of the ideal batting conditions with an aggressive unbeaten 130 off 155 balls.

The two batsmen share a 229-run fourth wicket stand reached in just over three-and-a-half hours as the Pakistan bowlers struggled to separate the pair despite taking the second new ball.

The Sri Lanka captain was thrice dropped by a team playing its first Test in 14 months as the grassless wicket of the National Stadium gave little response to either seamers or the two spinners.

Pakistan last played a Test match against India in Dec. 2007 in India and played its last home Test against South Africa in Oct. 2007.

Paceman Umar Gul (1-82) could not hold on to a low return catch when Jayawardene was on 17. He got another chance when Misbah-ul-Haq, who took all three catches in the innings, dropped a regulation chance in slips just after Jayawardene had driven the debutante fast bowler Sohail Khan for a boundary to become the first Sri Lanka player to reach 8,000 Test runs.

Jayawardene, playing in his 101st Test match, pounced on his opportunities and completed his 25th Test century in the last session when he cut leg-spinner Danish Kaneria to the boundary. He struck 20 boundaries in his five-hour knock and faced 239 deliveries.

Former captain Shoaib Malik dropped a two-handed catch of Jayawardene when he was on 123 late in the afternoon which could have earned Sohail his first Test wicket.

Samaraweera hit 21 fours in his century and drove off-spinner Malik for a straight boundary to complete his seventh Test century. He faced 155 balls.

Pakistan managed only one wicket in the last two sessions as the Sri Lanka batsmen dominated play.

Kumar Sangakkara (70) had added 90 runs for the third wicket with Jayawardene when he was caught at midwicket off leg-spinner Danish Kaneria (1-93) in the second session. Sangakkara cut and drove impressively as he hit nine fours in his 104-ball knock.

Sri Lanka dominated from the outset when Jayawardene won the toss and elected to bat first.

Despite losing Tharanga Paranavitana, a 26-year-old debutante, to the first ball he faced, Sri Lanka recovered when Sangakkara and Malinda Warnapura struck half-centuries in the first session.

Left-handed opener Warnapura scored an aggressive 59 off 48 balls with nine boundaries before Misbah took a one-handed catch at second slip off the bowling of Yasir Arafat (1-57), who returned Pakistan's best bowling figures.

Pakistan handed Test debuts to 22-year-old opening batsman Khurram Manzoor and the 24-year-old Sohail.

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