Sri Lanka scrape past Afghan
A spirited Afghanistan gave Sri Lankan a mighty scare but veteran batsman Mahela Jayawardene struck a resilient century to help the Islanders pull off a slippery 4-wicket win in their Pool A match of the World Cup on Sunday.
Chasing 233 for a win at the University Oval, Sri Lanka were reduced to 51 for four before a 126-run fifth wicket partnership between Mahela (100) and skipper Angelo Mathews (44) helped them scrape to their target in 48.2 overs.
Openers Lahiru Thirimanne (0) and Tilakaratne Dilshan (0) disappointed big time with new-ball bowlers Dawlat Zadran (1-44) and Shapoor Zadran (1-48) making early inroads. Kumar Sangakkara (7) couldn’t stay long as first-change pacer Hamid Hassan (3-45) got the veteran batsman cleaned up and soon sent Dimuth Karunaratne (23) back in the hut. Mahela, registering his 35th ODI century, and Mathews then did the grinding bit for 28 odd overs as the duo combined the right dose of caution and aggression.
But just when the Lankans thought that they are running away with the game, Mathews was run out in the 41st over and Hassan scalped Mahela, who struck 8 fours and a six in his 120-ball stay, soon after to take them by the sword.
Jeevan Mendis (9 not out) and Thisara Perera (47 not out) then stitched an unbeaten 58-run partnership, maintaining a run-rate of over 8, to take Lanka over line. Perera kept his cool till the end to smash 6 fours and a six in his 26-ball blitz. The Islanders survived a jittery moment in the 48th over when Hassan got Mendis caught behind only to see the third umpire overturn the decision after the left-hander’s referral.
Sri Lanka required 14 runs to win at that time. The little bit of luck is what Lanka needed as they finally registered their first win after losing to New Zealand in the tournament opener.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews admitted his side must raise their game if they are to win a second World Cup. “We really need to raise our standards to compete against the top teams,” said Mathews, whose side next face Bangladesh on Thursday, with further Pool A fixtures to come against Australia, England and Scotland.
“I am feeling relieved at the moment but I thought we came back well. It was a see-saw kind of game. They started off well and then we pulled it back in the end. I knew I had to stay out there with Mahela to get some kind of stand going,” the skipper said.