Wills World Cup, Group A


Toss: Sri Lanka.

A devastating assault by their openers ensured Sri Lanka first place in the group. They made 272 look a simple target, though Kumble made the middle order work hard for it. Victory by half-time seemed possible when Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana smashed 42 in their first three overs - Prabhakar conceded 11 and 22 - and they had shot past 50 in five when Kaluwitharana, looking for his seventh four, gave Kumble a diving catch. Jayasuriya charged on, though his final statistics of 79 in 76 balls, with nine fours and two sixes, seemed sedate after his initial rampage. Having set off at twice the required rate, Sri Lanka gradually fell behind, as spinners Kumble and Tendulkar bowled 12 overs in harness for 48. Kumble instigated a mini-collapse as he completed the run-out of Gurusinha and then, in his next two overs, dismissed Jayasuriya and De Silva. With another slow bowler - they had opted for a four-man seam attack, while Sri Lanka augmented their spin - India might have suffocated the innings. But Ranatunga and Tillekeratne restarted the ignition in a stand of 131, winning with eight balls to spare. India paid for their slow progress in the morning. They began batting in light mist, after play was delayed 15 minutes by dew on the outfield, and took 25 overs to score 100. After a short rain-break, the final 11 overs brought 105, thanks to Tendulkar. His run-a-ball 137, with five sixes and eight fours, was his second century of the tournament and he added 175 with Azharuddin, an all-wicket World Cup record for India. Pushpakumara's last over cost 23 - but that only prefigured the carnage to come.

Man of the Match: S. T. Jayasuriya.

© John Wisden & Co