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Cricket World Cup: Sri Lanka through after record stand

World Cup Group A, Kandy:
Sri Lanka 327-6 (50 overs) bt Zimbabwe 188 (39 overs) by 139 runs

Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan

Openers lead Sri Lanka into quarters

By Jamie Lillywhite

Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan shared a World Cup record opening stand of 282 as Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by 139 runs to seal a quarter-final place.

They eclipsed the 194 set by Pakistan's Saeed Anwar and Wajahatullah Wasti in 1999 as Sri Lanka compiled 326-6.

It was also the first time in a World Cup that both openers scored a century, Tharanga with 133 and Dilshan 144.

In reply Brendan Taylor made a fluent 80 off 72 balls but Zimbabwe slid from 116-0 to 188 all out, Dilshan with 4-4.

The mammoth partnership was only four short of the highest opening stand in one-day international history, which Tharanga also set, with Sanath Jayasuriya, against England in 2006.

It made rather a mockery of Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura's decision to bowl first, and Dilshan proved there were no demons in the surface by dispatching the first four deliveries of the second over for four-six-four-four.

Tharanga hit three fours in an over from Mpofu as 77 came from the 10 compulsory powerplay overs.

The pair were determined not to throw their wickets away, however, and in a period of consolidation only two fours were scored in 13 overs.

Dilshan was first to three figures, reaching his ninth one-day international century in the 31st over, while Tharanga's 10th ODI ton followed 10 overs later, from 141 balls, with a delightful drive to the long-off boundary.

It is not the first time doping allegations have surfaced - I feel like there is an attempt to distract my game but I am not worried

Tillakaratne Dilshan

Tharanga, frequently making room to strike freely through the off-side, hit three fours in an over from increasingly exasperated leg-spinner Greg Lamb but he was the first to fall in the 45th over as a lofted drive was caught at cover.

His partner was dismissed in the next over before Chris Mpofu's figures were given some much needed respectability, not through unplayable deliveries but three catches on the boundary, with all six wickets falling for 26 in 20 balls.

Remarkably Zimbabwe were on course having been given an excellent start by the clean-hitting Taylor and the well organised Regis Chakabva against a Sri Lankan attack that had swapped two spinners for two seamers.

Taylor was hit in the box by a Thisara Perera inswinger which would have rendered many a batsman powerless, but somehow regained his composure to hit the next two deliveries for six and four.

Brendan Taylor
Taylor gave Zimbabwe hope with an enterprising innings

He was dropped on 49 when Lasith Malinga badly misjudged the chance at third man and Chakabva stylishly cut to the boundary to record the century stand in the 17th over.

After 19 overs Zimbabwe had matched the Sri Lankans exactly at 111-0 but Muttiah Muralitharan produced a moment of brilliance to break the partnership as Chakabva played for the ball turning in and the doosra zipped away to rattle the off-stump.

Taylor was dismissed in the 25th over, deceived by a slower ball and looping a catch straight to mid-wicket as seamer Angelo Mathews struck in successive overs and the Zimbabwe innings quickly subsided.

Dilshan left no doubts over the destination of the Man-of-the-Match award with a cluster of wickets with his wily off-spinners, Mahela Jayawardene aiding him with a stunning diving slip catch, but he was denied a hat-trick when Jayawardene spilled a far simpler low chance.

The inconsistent fielding continued in the next over when Murali spilled a routine catch in the deep off Malinga - the fourth catch to go down in the innings - but the master spinner made amends by taking the final wicket before his adoring home crowd, bowling Mpofu behind his legs for his 150th ODI scalp on Sri Lankan soil.

Skipper Kumar Sangakkara paid tribute to his all-rounder and said: "Dilshan has been an important player for us over the last 10 years. Today he had that magic touch with bat, ball and on the field."

The man himself admitted he was focused on a substantial innings and said: "I was really disappointed about not cashing in on the starts I used to get but I am happy with the performance. It was a very good wicket to bat and the ball came on well."

Chigumbura, whose team have only one win from their four games, lamented: "We needed a bigger score from other batsmen after Brendan Taylor's 80. I am disappointed with the show but we will stay positive and learn from mistakes and try to improve in the remaining matches."

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see also
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