Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene rewrite history books on this day with world-record stand vs South Africa

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene stitched a world record partnership of 624 runs in the Test against South Africa in 2006 and it remains the highest partnership in the history of cricket.

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene shared a world record 624-run stand against South Africa in 2006. (Image credit: Twitter)
By Siddharth vishwanathan | Jul 29, 2021 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Sri Lanka cricket was at its peak in the first decade of the early 21st century. Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan at the top were formidable. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were the bedrocks of the middle order batting. Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, and Muttiah Muralitharan formed the bowling unit. Muralitharan, in particular, was at the peak of his powers at that time. The full glory of Sri Lanka cricket came to the fore on July 29, 2021, in the Test against South Africa. On that day, Sangakkara and Jayawardene etched their name in the history books.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene had been good friends even before they made their debut in international cricket. At club and school cricket, Sangakkara and Jayawardene were prolific run-getters. Jayawardene made his debut in 1997 and was already making plenty of runs. Sangakkara, on the other hand, played international cricket from 2000 but immediately established himself for his style and class.

The world record against South Africa

South Africa had toured Sri Lanka for two Tests in 2006. The Proteas had a decent record in the country, winning a series in 1993 and managing to draw one in 2000. But, in 2006, the Sri Lankan team was determined to get the better of South Africa on their home patch. They made a good start as Sri Lanka bowled South Africa out for 169. Muttiah Muralitharan and Dilhara Fernando took four wickets apiece while Farvez Maharoof chipped in with two wickets.

However, Sri Lanka made a wobbly start when Dale Steyn dismissed Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga for 4 and 7. The hosts were shaky at 14/2 when Jayawardene joined Sangakkara at the crease. The partnership almost never began. Sangakkara was dropped at gully and he was bowled off a no-ball. Pouncing on the two chances, the left-hander then played a flawless knock.

Jayawardene, on the other hand, looked in sublime touch and was making rapid progress. Both batsmen notched up their centuries, with Sangakkara reaching in dramatic style. Sangakkara miscued the lofted shot and it landed just in front of the fielder as he hit his hundred first. South Africa wilted in the Colombo heat as Jayawardene reached his milestone. The duo was not even aware of the world record partnership at that time. In fact, they were so casual that at the end of the second day’s play, they took their wives out for dinner at a Thai restaurant. On day 2, Sangakkara and Jayawardene batted the entire day. It was only after tea on the second day that they finally realized that they were on the cusp of a special record.

Breaking Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama’s record

In 1997, Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama stitched a world record 576-run stand for the second wicket against India. At the R Premadasa stadium, records were broken in plenty of ways. Jayasuriya became the country’s first triple centurion and Mahanama hit 225. The duo stitched the world record stand and Sri Lanka notched up 952/6 declared, the highest in Test history. In that match, Jayawardene had made his debut and he hit 66.

Nine years later, Jayawardene was at it again. Both he and Sangakkara motored along as both went past 250. Nicky Boje, the left-arm spinner, was bowling to Jayawardene. The batsman missed out on the leg glance but the keeper also missed it. The ball went to the fine leg fence for four byes and history was created. Sangakkara and Jayawardene notched up the highest partnership in Test history. The fireworks at the SSC went off and everybody at the ground stood up to applaud the efforts of the duo.

The fireworks display lasted for a good couple of minutes. But, there was more history waiting to be created. After 129 years, 1800 Tests later, the world record belonged to Sangakkara and Jayawardene. It also broke the highest First-Class partnership of 577 between Vijay Hazare and Gul Mohamed in 1946/47 for Baroda against Holkar. It was a time of joy for Sri Lanka cricket.

Jayawardene scripts even more records

Jayawardene was the first to reach his triple century as he drove Andrew Hall’s full delivery to the extra cover fence. The emotions were clearly visible as his wife cheered him on. Sangakkara reached 287 but he drove a full ball from Hall to be caught by Mark Boucher. The 624-run stand was broken. Sangakkara missed the chance to score a triple and it would have been the first instance in which two triple centuries would be scored in the match.

The partnership was epic in many ways. The periods of concentration, the ability to sustain the attack and grind the opposition down made this partnership an epic. Jayawardene went past Jayasuriya’s mark of 340 to become the highest individual scorer for Sri Lanka in Tests. He was bowled by Andre Nel for 374, missing the mark of Brian Lara’s 375 by one run. Jayawardene became the fourth-highest individual run-getter in Test cricket.

When he was dismissed, Sri Lanka declared on 756/5. Muralitharan then spun his magic to take 6/131 in 64 overs. South Africa put up a better show in the second innings but they were bowled out for 434. Jacques Rudolph hit 90 and Boucher followed it up with 85. Ashwell Prince and Andrew Hall hit fifties but it all went in vain.

Jayawardene followed his 374 up with 123 in the second Test at P Sara Oval as Sri Lanka won by one wicket. The thrilling win gave Sri Lanka a 2-0 win in the series. It was an epic moment in the country’s Test history. Fittingly, it was the trio of Jayawardene, Sangakkara and Muralitharan who would highlight it in a big way.

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