- POSTED: 15 Jun 2014 02:21
Kumar Sangakkara's first Test hundred at Lord's saw him rewrite cricket's record books but England remained in control of their series opener with Sri Lanka.
LONDON: Kumar Sangakkara's first Test hundred at Lord's saw him rewrite cricket's record books but England remained in control of their series opener with Sri Lanka on Saturday.
Sri Lanka were 415 for seven at stumps on the third day of this two-match series, with left-hander Sangakkara's 147 key to their avoiding the follow-on.
His century made the 36-year-old the first man to score hundreds in three consecutive innings on three separate occasions in Tests.
England, however, still led by 160 runs after Joe Root's maiden Test double century had taken them to a total of 575 for nine declared.
Sangakkara was involved in partnerships of 97, 126 and 96 with Kaushal Silva (62), Mahela Jayawardene (55) and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews (79 not out) respectively.
He was all assurance until caught behind off Moeen Ali to give the debutant off-spinner his first Test wicket.
England captain Alastair Cook, often accused of lacking imagination, tried to unsettle the batsmen with unusual field placings and angles of attack.
But his bowlers were largely frustrated by Sangakkara, whose career batting average of 58.53 has only been bettered by players who've appeared in at least 25 Tests by Australia's Don Bradman (99.94) and the England duo of Herbert Sutcliffe (60.73) and Ken Barrington (58.67).
Sri Lanka resumed Saturday on 140 for one, with opener Kaushal Silva 62 not out and Sangakkara unbeaten on 32.
Play commenced in gloomy overcast conditions that led to the floodlights being switched on.
Silva had added just one to his score when, trying to sway out of the way of a James Anderson bouncer, he didn't lower his bat, with the ball grazing the face on its way through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Sri Lanka, though, were 212 for two at lunch with Sangakkara 73 not out and Jayawardene unbeaten on 29.
Sangakkara then went past his previous Lord's Test-best of 78 and and entered the 90s by lofting Ali down the ground for four.
Liam Plunkett, playing his first Test in seven years, tried bowling short from around the wicket to a packed legside field but to no avail.
And when the fast bowler reverted to over-the-wicket, Sangakkara straight-drove for an all-run four to move on to 97.
By now, Cook had brought on part-time off-spinner Root in a bid to break the stand.
Sangakkara, though, cover-drove Root for his 10th boundary to complete a 182-ball century - his 36th in 123 Tests.
The clearly-elated Sangakkara was embraced by Jayawardene after ensuring he got his name on the Lord's honours board - a feat that proved beyond modern batting greats Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting, none of whom made a Test hundred at the 'home of cricket'.
But with the second over of the new ball, England at last separated the veterans when Stuart Broad had Jayawardene, like Sangakkara playing in his fourth and likely last Test at Lord's, plumb lbw.
And when Lahiru Thirimanne fell shortly afterwards, Sri Lanka were 289 for four - nearly 100 runs shy of the follow-on.
But Mathews counter-attacked with a 64-ball fifty featuring six fours.
Meanwhile Sangakkara was still playing some classic shots, including a majestic cover-drive for four off Plunkett that pierced the infield.
But trying to cut Ali, he was well caught by Prior to end a superbly constructed innings of more than seven-and-a-half hours.
Cook's innovation was eventually rewarded when Prasanna Jayawardene played a genuine glance off Plunkett, only for Ian Bell at leg-slip to hold a sharp chance.
Nuwan Kulasekara was then out in orthodox fashion, caught behind off a full-length delivery from debutant paceman Chris Jordan.