Ranking Mahela Jayawardene's Top 10 Test Innings
With Sri Lanka batting legend Mahela Jayawardene having announced that he will be retiring from Test match cricket at the end of his country’s series with Pakistan in August, we take a look back at the 37-year-old’s run-laden career.
And with an incredible 33 Test hundreds to his name currently, including tons against every Test-playing nation, here are the middle-order batsman’s top-10 innings ranked in order—based on the match situation, quality of opposition bowling attack and overall importance of the knock—since his debut against India in 1997.
10. 195 V England, Colombo, December 2007
The captain walked out to bat with his side in trouble on 22 for two in the final session on Day 2 of the second Test with England at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, after the tourists themselves had compiled 351 in their first innings.
However, against opponents who he has scored more Test tons against than anyone else—eight—and at a venue where he has also made his highest number of Test centuries—10—man-of-the-match Jayawardene went on to compile a sumptuous 195 to ensure Sri Lanka comfortably drew the game.
9. 167 V South Africa, Galle, July 2000
Jayawardene’s masterful and error-free first-innings 167 during the course of the first two days of the opening Test of a three-match series against South Africa helped to create the platform for Sri Lanka’s comprehensive innings and 15-run victory.
Now batting at No. 4 in the order, his knock lasted for just 288 balls, with 22 fours and two sixes, as the home team compiled 500 in a Test for the first time ever against the South Africans.
8. 242 V India, Colombo, February 1999
A man-of-the-match display in only his seventh Test for Sri Lanka helped his side to a draw with subcontinental rivals India at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, and what’s more, the little right-handed batsman also recorded his maiden double-hundred in the process.
Jayawardene went on to make 242 from 465 deliveries, a sublime knock that included 30 fours and two sixes over the course of more than 11 hours of batting, although the tourists had only themselves to blame after dropping the player on no less than five occasions.
7. 213* V England, Galle, December 2007
Having been put into bat on Day 1 of the decisive third Test with England at the Galle International Stadium, the Sri Lanka skipper’s calm head was again needed to extricate his side from a spot of bother after they had been reduced to 138 for four.
And that is exactly what Jayawardene proceeded to do, with the experienced middle-order batsman compiling yet another double-century—he has six to his name at present—during three days of imperious batting as the hosts recovered by racking up 499 for eight declared to draw the match and take the series 1-0.
Oh, and the captain’s knock, which lasted for more than 10 hours and contained no less than 25 fours, also rightly saw him win both the man of the match and the player of the series awards.
6. 150 V Bangladesh, Colombo, September 2001
The Colombo-born star treated his adoring home fans to a memorable innings during the Asian Test Championship against Bangladesh in 2001 after blasting his way to the fastest Test match century ever recorded by a Sri Lankan.
Jayawardene was in such dominant form with the bat that the then-youngster made 150 from just 115 balls, including 26 fours and one six, at an astonishing strike-rate of 130.43, before then deciding to retire as the hosts cruised their way to an innings and 137-run win.
5. 167 V New Zealand, Galle, June 1998
A quite remarkable knock in just his fourth Test on a turning Galle pitch saw the home side prevail by a whopping innings and 16 runs to level the three-match series, with the young No. 3’s first-innings contribution being an eye-catching 167.
And with there being just the one half-century made in the whole game, Jayawardene’s maiden Test century really was one to remember in front of a raucous crowd at the Galle International Stadium.
4. 237 V South Africa, Galle, July 2004
Boy does Jayawardene enjoy batting at the Galle International Stadium, with the silky-smooth batsman crafting yet another picture-book ton in the opening match of a two-Test series with South Africa exactly a decade ago.
In particular, however, it was the No. 4’s display on Day 2—when he managed to more than double his overnight score from 116 to 237 while batting with the tail—that was the most impressive aspect of this 415-ball innings that lasted almost 10 hours.
3. 119 V England, Lord's, May 2006
Having already top-scored with 61 in the tourists’ first innings, the skipper soon found himself back out in the middle with only just over half the match played after his side had been made to follow-on 359 runs behind England.
Incredibly, though, Jayawardene somehow managed to help keep the hosts’ impressive bowling attack at bay while making a rare overseas ton—albeit having been dropped on 58—with Sri Lanka as a team batting for 199 overs to draw the opening Test of that three-match series after making 537 for nine in their second innings.
2. 374 V South Africa, Colombo, July 2006
Without doubt, one of Jayawardene’s finest-ever knocks came against another of his most favourite opponents—South Africa—at his most-loved venue—the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground—as the graceful batsman made the fourth-highest score in the history of Test cricket in a thumping innings and 153-run win.
Starting his innings on Day 1 in Colombo after the tourists had won the toss and been skittled for just 169, the No. 4 went on to share in a third-wicket partnership of 624 with his best friend Kumar Sangakkara, a record in first-class cricket.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka captain then threatened to go past Brian Lara’s own Test-best score of 400 not out, before being dismissed by a ball that kept low from Andre Nel after 12-and-a-half hours, 572 balls, 43 fours and a six while making the highest-ever score by a right-hander in Test cricket.
1. 123 V South Africa, Colombo, July 2006
Another sensational effort from the Sri Lanka skipper helped seal a tense 2-0 series win over the Proteas in the second and deciding Test of a thrilling contest eight years ago, with the man of the match’s second-innings 123 rated by many good judges as being even better than his knock of 374 against the same bowling attack in the previous game.
Chasing 353 for victory on a wearing fourth and fifth-day pitch at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium, the home side were staring at defeat on 201 for five, and it could have been even worse had Herschelle Gibbs not dropped Jayawardene in the gully when he had made only two.
And that miss was to prove crucial as the captain guided his side to within just 11 runs of their target, with still three wickets in hand at lunch on the final day, before departing the scene with the job all but done as Sri Lanka eventually prevailed by one wicket.