Sangakkara stars at Lord's

Kumar Sangakkara addressed one glaring omission on his outstanding CV by making his first Test hundred at the home of cricket.

Kumar Sangakkara, left, celebrates scoring his first century at Lord's
Kumar Sangakkara, left, celebrates scoring his first century at Lord's

England were powerless, on day three at Lord's, to stop Sri Lanka's great middle-order batsman matching Test hundreds to his age - 36 - as he and his great ally Mahela Jayawardene helped the tourists to a teatime 309 for four in reply to 575 for nine declared.

The old firm took over at HQ, after England at least shifted opener Kaushal Silva on a cloudy morning but were then shut out for more than two and a half hours on a steadfastly benign surface by two all-time class acts.

The upshot was a stand of 126, in which Sangakkara (121no) broke new ground when he cover-drove Joe Root on the up for his 10th four to reach three figures from 182 balls.

The moment of realisation overcame not just him but also the usually under-stated Jayawardene, who still leads his close friend 2-1 in Lord's hundreds and was delighted with Sangakkara's achievement - expressing himself by charging up the pitch to 'mug' his third-wicket partner mid-celebration with a neck-high bear hug.

England had ruled the first five sessions of this match, but there was a healthy dose of payback as even heavy cloud cover and the need for floodlights made precious little difference to a surface which refused to mis-behave.

Sangakkara and Jaywardene (55) have prospered many times in less favourable circumstances, and rarely threatened to miss out here - although the latter was discomforted for a time when Liam Plunkett went round the wicket and peppered him with short balls.

Sangakkara, who made a one-day international at Lord's just last month, doubtless assessed - in what may be his final match for Sri Lanka here - that he can rarely have had a better opportunity to register one in Tests too.

Accordingly, he was risk free against a hard-working attack.

After James Anderson conceded six runs in the first over of the day, including a cover-driven four for Sangakkara, the tourists registered only another four runs in the next seven overs.

Alastair Cook had catchers in place behind and in front of the wicket but, on this slow pitch, tempered his tactics with a boundary sweeper on either side to Sangakkara.

It was eventually Silva (63) who succumbed to the grind.

Anderson broke the second-wicket stand on 97, doing well to find some life with a short ball which followed Silva and was deflected off the bat face to Matt Prior - who reacted well to the late change of direction.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene then took over, and it was not until one had his hundred and the other a 90-ball 50 that England struck again.

The second new ball helped to do the trick for Stuart Broad, who defeated Jayawardene's forward-defence from the nursery end to win an lbw verdict - even after his victim had tested DRS.

After Anderson then also nipped out Lahiru Thirimanne, chipping tamely to midwicket, there was still just a chance the follow-on might come into the equation.

Sangakkara was unlikely to be thinking in those terms, though.