Special Correspondent

Colombo: Thursday was Batsman’s Day at the SSC, and Sri Lanka’s three century makers spoke warmly about the ground that had provided so much.

Mahela Jayawardene, who scored his fourth hundred in as many innings at this ground, said he was aware of tying Sir Donald Bradman’s record for the most centuries (nine) at a Test venue.

“I did know, there was a big announcement made at the ground,” said the Sri Lankan captain. It’s a good batting wicket, batting here is all about application — after settling in the initial period, it’s easy to graft the runs. With the two dropped catches, I’ve been very lucky, but that’s how it goes, sometimes it goes your way.”

‘My best hundred’

Malinda Warnapura, Jayawardene’s partner in a 155-run stand for the third wicket, was delighted with his 115. “A hundred is a hundred, and I really appreciate it,” said the 29-year-old. “Particularly against India at the SSC, it is my best hundred. Batting with Mahela is so easy, you can’t get a better partner than Mahela. He kept talking to me when I was loose or lost concentration.”

Thilan Samaraweera, who finished the day unbeaten on 111, said he was pleased that a more positive approach was paying dividends. A determined stone-waller at one stage, the middle-order batsman struck 16 fours in his 187-ball knock.

“I’ve changed my game in the last 20 months when I have been out of the team and with the ‘A’ team,” said Samaraweera. “I’m looking to score more runs, and I’ve made small technical changes for this. I’m happy the changes have worked for me. I’ve never felt any pressure playing at the SSC; it’s a lucky ground for me.”

Sense of humour intact

Ishant Sharma, at the receiving end of Sri Lanka’s run glut, did well to keep his sense of humour. “I won’t say it’s a great day for us,” said the fast-bowler, who finished the day with figures of two for 97.

“With the new ball there’s carry and movement, but with the old ball there is nothing. It’s just a flat track. So we decided that we should bowl in the right areas. Patience is the most important thing.”

Asked if India missed a fifth bowler, Ishant said, “Four of us worked as hard as five bowlers. If we had caught well, we’d have done better. I think we bowled well, but we had catches dropped. It’s part of the game.”

Referral system used

Thursday also saw the umpire referral system in use for the first time. India squandered two of the quota of three unsuccessful referrals, Harbhajan Singh prompting both. Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan made a successful appeal against a caught-behind decision.

“Dilshan was confident he didn’t hit it, and that’s why he got it his way,” said Jayawardene. “The Indian guys went for a couple of 50-50 decisions, which are tough for the third umpire to give.”

Was the system tougher on the fielding captain? “We had a long chat about what was the way to go about it,” said Jayawardene.

“Obviously, the 50-50 ones are going to be tough. So if it’s not a 100 per cent, you don’t go for it because the umpire won’t give it even if there is a little doubt. The keeper is the ideal person to ask. You can take a few chances, but not too many.”

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper