October 4, 2000

Sri Lanka set challenging target

Aviska Gunawardena rode his luck all the way to a robust century as Sri Lanka posted a challenging total of 287 for six against the West Indies in the second preliminary match in the ICC KnockOut 2000 tournament at the Nairobi Gymkhana Club on Wednesday.

Gunawardena, who eventually made 132, shared in a mammoth third-wicket partnership with Mahela Jayawardena that enabled Sri Lanka to recover from the loss of their first two wickets for 10.

He might have been out dismissed without scoring when he edged Nixon McLean just wide of second slip, was dropped twice in the 70s and should have been run out on 95. He was also caught at long-off off a Mervyn Dillon no ball on 121, but he profitted from his luck to make his runs off 146 balls in an innings which included 19 fours.

He and Jayawardena put on 160 in 27.3 overs for the third wicket in a stand which might well see Sri Lanka into the quarter-finals.

Gunawardena was dropped twice in the same Dillon over, on 72 when Wavell Hinds spilled a chance dropping over his shoulder as he ran back from mid-off, and on 79 when Sherwin Campbell had two attempts at clutching at a stinging drive.

Finally, the West Indians broke the stand when Kerry Jeremy was given a second chance with the ball in the 33rd over, and Jayawardena perished tamely, top-edging at attempted cut to give Courtney Browne a simple chance behind the stumps.

Jayawardena had batted quite beautifully, his 72 coming off 71 balls with nine fours and the six.

In Jeremy's next over, a little bit of fortune went the way of the West Indies. Gunawardena drove powerfully and straight and the bowler touched the ball onto the wicket with the new batsman, Kumar Sangakkara, stranded out of the crease. Sangakkara made 2 and Sri Lanka were 177 for four.

Gunawardena was given a further reprieve on 95 when Laurie Williams failed to gather a return at the bowler's end from Campbell with the batsman metres out of his ground. A quiet single in Williams' next over took Gunawardena to his century off 125 deliveries.

Russell Arnold contributed 41 off 35 balls before Gunawardene was eventually out in the penultimate over, bowled around his legs by a McLean yorker.