Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara chew up records with 624-run stand against South Africa
July 29, 2006 - There was genuine friendship on display when Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene shared the field, more so when the two were batting together, which was more often than not.
At the same time, there was tremendous competition between the two, as both concede. It was perhaps the fact that both played in the same era that helped each increase their average by a few more.
Their most remembered partnership came in the first test of the South Africa tour of Sri Lanka in 2006 at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo. South Africa were found wanting as they did not know how to react on a day 1 pitch which was spinning enough to allow Muttiah Muralitharan to pick up four wickets within 18.2 overs.
The visitors were bowled out for just 169 with AB de Villiers top scoring. Apart from Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando also picked up a 4-wicket haul.
When it was time for Sri Lanka to bat, it seemed as if they had brought their own pitch with them. After openers Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya were dismissed early and Sri Lanka were at 14/2 after 3.3 overs, old guards Kumar Sangakkara and Mahila Jayawardene joined each other at the pitch.
The partnership began with watchful singles, interspersed with some crisp strokes, and focused blocks. The concentration level of the two as always was admirable.
Jayawardene, in particular, played a chanceless knock as the two complemented each other. To begin with, Sangakkara was a bit more aggressive and Jayawardene took the backseat. As the former began to approach his milestones, particularly on the beginning of day 3, Jayawardene assumed the positive role while Sangakkara played second fiddle to him.
To their credit, South Africa did not throw in the towel and made it difficult for Sri Lanka to score. Although the home side did find a way out, South Africa ensured that it wasn't easy, especially the leg stump line that Nick Boje stuck to, spinning it off the rough. It only magnified the skill level of Jayawardene who kept tucking the ball late and artistically.
Sangakkara was the first to be dismissed for 287 which came off 457 balls at a decent strike rate of 62.80. Despite that, the stylish left-hander would have been disappointed to fall just 13 short of what would have been a test triple.
Tillakaratne Dilshan then accompanied Mahela Jayawardene, who looked imperious for his 374 off 572 deliveries with as many as 43 boundaries. It needed a delivery from Andre Nel that kept dangerously low to uproot his stumps. The dream of bettering Brian Lara's record of 400 was not to be fulfilled but the batsman departed with his career best of 374.
The duo batted together for 157 overs, during which they jogged past the standing highest partnership in Test cricket between compatriots Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama (576 vs India at Colombo in 1997). Their 624-run partnership remains the highest partnership for any wicket in Test cricket.
The two also broke the record of the 577-run partnership between Vijay Hazare and Gul Mohammed for the highest partnership in First-class cricket.
All these records would have stood for nothing had Sri Lanka not managed to win the game. Following the declaration at the stroke of Jayawardene's dismissal, South Africa were left with 15 overs to negotiate on day 3, along with day 4 and 5.
South Africa did try their best but were finally bowled out for 434 from 157.2 overs, as the match was done and dusted in the post-lunch session on the final day. The match that will always be remembered for the marathon 624-run partnership between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene went to Sri Lanka by an innings and 153 runs as Murali bagged another of his 22 10-wicket hauls in tests.
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