Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were seven runs away from compiling a world record patnership as they continued their domination of South Africa in the first Test here on Saturday.
The third-wicket pair took their stand to an undefeated 570 by lunch on the third day, a sixer away from equalling the existing record of 576 for the second wicket by fellow-Sri Lankans Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama against India in 1997. Both batsmen scored career-best double centuries to take Sri Lanka to 584-2 in their first innings at the break, a lead of 415 over South Africa's meagre 169 at the Sinhalese sports club.
Skipper Jayawardene returned unbeaten on 276 with 31 boundaries and a six, having surpassed his previous best of 242 against India in the Asian Test championship match here in 1999. Left-handed Sangakkara was on 271 not out with 35 fours, overtaking the 270 he made against Zimbabwe in Bulayawo in 2003.
The pair came together on Thursday evening with Sri Lanka struggling on 14-2 after seamer Dale Steyn removed openers Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga in his first two overs. Sangakkara has so far batted for 10 hours and 11 minutes, while Jayawardene is a minute away from completing the 10-hour mark.
There was little the depleted South Africans, missing three top stars, could do to stop the rampaging Sri Lankans in good batting conditions. The Proteas, already without the injured duo of skipper Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, also missed veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock, who opted out of the match following the birth of his second child.
Pollock will be available for the second Test of the short two-match series which starts at the Sara stadium here on August 4. Left-arm spinner Nicky Boje bore the brunt of the assault in hot and humid weather, conceding 172 runs in 51 unsuccessful overs. Steyn took 2-109 in 22 overs.