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The Bulletin by Sa'adi Thawfeeq
February 3, 2011
Sri Lanka 199 for 2 (Tharanga 101*, Jayawardene 48*) beat West Indies 203 (Dwayne Bravo 39, Malinga 3-30) by eight wickets
Upul Tharanga's ninth one-day century and his first against West Indies steered Sri Lanka to a convincing eight-wicket win and a 1-0 lead in the three-match one-day series.
Tharanga paced his innings superbly, and batted out the entire length of the Sri Lanka innings, to remain unbeaten on 101 off 143 balls with the help of seven fours.
The tall, lean left-hander is expected to play the sheet anchor role during Sri Lanka's World Cup campaign and bat out the entire 50 overs. On Thursday, he showed what he is capable of doing, as Sri Lanka chased down a rain-revised total of 197 off 47 overs in just 42.3, after West Indies had been dismissed for 203.
Tharanga's innings was chanceless, and on a slow pitch which suited his style of batting he was never in trouble despite West Indies using as many as seven bowlers, who managed to prize out only two wickets between them.
Tillakaratne Dilshan left in the ninth over, attempting to cut a ball too close to his body and offering a catch behind the wicket. Captain Kumar Sangakkara managed 20 out of a second-wicket stand of 70 with Tharanga, before hitting a half volley from Dwayne Bravo to short extra cover.
Mahela Jayawardene and Tharanga made sure West Indies didn't make any further inroads into the batting by sharing an unbroken stand of 97. Jayawardene sealed the match with an inside-out drive to the boundary off Miller. He was unbeaten on 48 at the end of the match.
Sri Lanka came up with a disciplined bowling performance to restrict West Indies to 203. Given the persistent rain over the previous two days, the toss was vital and Sri Lanka had no hesitation in inviting West Indies to bat on the same surface on which the first match was played three days ago. Openers Chris Gayle and Adrian Barath, who made a century in the first ODI, negotiated some testing overs from Lasith Malinga and Nuwana Kulasekara to add 45 runs within the first 10 overs, before Kulasekara trapped Barath lbw, playing across the line to a ball that pitched on off stump.
Gayle, who had previously hit Kulasekara for a six and four in one over, then edged Muttiah Muralitharan to Thilan Samaraweera at second slip. Gayle came forward to a good length ball and was surprised by the bounce that Muralitharan got off the very first ball of his spell.
The fall of the openers on 45 slowed West Indies' run-rate and Sangakkara took advantage of it by getting a few overs from part-time offspinner Dilshan in. West Indies looked to be getting their innings back on track as Darren Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan added 49 runs off 96 balls. The stand ended when Sarwan, who was backing up too far at the non-striker's end, was run out after a hard drive by Darren Bravo hit the stumps off bowler Rangana Herath's hand.
Darren was joined by his half-brother Dwayne Bravo and the duo put on 38 before Malinga, returning for his second spell, trapped Darren Bravo lbw with a reverse-swinging delivery. Another reverse-swinging delivery from Malinga soon accounted for the dangerous Kieron Pollard, who played down the wrong line, and had his off stump pegged back.
Dwayne Bravo and Carlton Baugh added a further 37 runs to take West Indies to 175 for 5 before Herath, who had bowled a tight line and length, was finally rewarded with the wicket of Dwayne Bravo. The remaining West Indies batsmen failed to offer much resistance as the last four wickets fell for just 16 runs.
It was an all-round bowling effort from the Sri Lankans, with Malinga the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 30. Sri Lanka's fielders backed their bowlers with some excellent ground fielding and missed just one catch when Angelo Mathews dropped Baugh at long leg.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?