Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Getting sleep child’s play for Mahela Jayawardene

Touring parent may have dodged restive nights back in Sri Lanka, but the batsman dedicates 32nd Test century to his newborn daughter as tourists increased lead on Pakistan's score to 153 on Day 2, reports Paul Radley.
Mahela Jayawardene batted through a lot of pain after he split the webbing between fingers on his left hand in Dubai. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP
Mahela Jayawardene batted through a lot of pain after he split the webbing between fingers on his left hand in Dubai. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP

DUBAI // A turgid day of Test cricket between two contemptuously familiar rivals on a lifeless Dubai pitch may be just the antidote to the insomnia of the first-time parent. Unless they happen to be batting in the middle at the time, of course.

When Mahela Jayawardene struck the boundary that completed his century, he punctuated it with a rock-the-baby celebration first made famous by Romario, Bebeto and Mazinho, all those years ago.

This one, his 32nd in Tests, was for the new arrival in his family, the daughter delivered by wife Christina at the start of December.

Judged by the verve with which he managed it on an otherwise snooze-inducing day in cricket’s long format, Jayawardene had managed to dodge the sleepless nights of early parenthood.

Clearly, this was a man who had managed to find a cure for the sleep deprivation – namely by playing international cricket for his country in foreign climes.

He may be a distance away, but the special people in his life are never out of mind.

“Usually my wife is here watching me batting, but unfortunately she is [back home] with the little one,” the freshest-looking 36 year old in Test cricket said.

“I was pretty sure my wife would have been giving her a bath at that time, around 6pm in the evening.

“So the celebration was just to say that I was thinking about them as well when I reached the hundred, because usually she is around watching the game. It is a good feeling, but unfortunately both of them are not here.”

Jayawardene will also have a more painful reason to remember his first ton in 18 efforts in this format, too. The former Sri Lanka captain split the webbing between fingers of his left hand on Wednesday.

After having the damage repaired with stitches, he had two injections, as well as painkilling lotion applied to the area, and then dosed up on Panadol to get him through.

It did the trick. By the close he had reached 106 not out and shared in valuable alliances with Kaushal Silva, worth 139, and Angelo Mathews, his successor as captain.

His unbroken stand to the tune of 91 with Mathews resumes on Friday morning with the Sri Lankans 153 runs ahead with six first-innings wickets still in hand.

“There were limitations to my batting, and I don’t know if it helped with my concentration along the way because I could only do certain things,” Jayawardene said.

“Every time I didn’t time the ball well, I was getting pain from the vibrations. Then my target was to time the ball every time, to stay away from that irritation.

“Every hundred I have scored is special to me because I am contributing to the team cause. If this hundred helps us to win a Test match, it will be brilliant.”

The short history of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium as a Test venue suggests Sri Lanka are well-placed to force that victory.

As Jayawardene pointed out, the best days for batting in Dubai are usually two and three, meaning the Sri Lankans could look forward to more benevolent conditions on Friday.

Cheer was difficult to come by for the nominal home side’s bowlers. Rahat Ali had Kumar Sangakkara out lbw. Junaid Khan bounced out Dinesh Chandimal.

Mohammed Hafeez trapped Silva in front, as the pint-sized opener agonisingly fell five runs short of what would have been his first Test century.

And that was it for Pakistan.

“The positive is that the bowlers kept running in,” said Mohammed Akram, Pakistan’s bowling coach.

“We had to spend a long time in the field in the last match, too, so the bowlers are obviously fit.”

pradley@thenational.ae

Updated: January 9, 2014 04:00 AM

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