Hand it to Dilshan
KANDY – Sri Lanka crushed Zimbabwe by 139 runs to breeze into the quarter-finals, but Tillakaratne Dilshan, architect of the victory, narrowly missed a rare milestone in the World Cup Group A match yesterday.
Dilshan (144) dominated his 282-run partnership with Upul Tharanga (133), the highest opening stand in a World Cup, at the Pallekele Stadium.
The flamboyant cricketer (four for four) then returned to wreck Zimbabwe and could have completed a hat-trick had not Mahela Jayawardene dropped a catch at slip.
Bowling the 30th over of the Zimbabwean innings, Dilshan trapped Craig Ervine with his third delivery and induced an edge from Greg Lamb’s bat from the next which Jayawardene, diving to his left, smartly pouched.
Dilshan’s next delivery resulted in another edge but Jayawardene somehow managed to drop a sitter. Dilshan, hands on his head, flashed a wry smile before returning to the bowling mark.
“The hat-trick unfortunately went away, but before that, Mahela took a brilliant catch, so the second wicket really went to him.
“It can happen,” he said after receiving the Man Of The Match trophy in what he called the best game of his career.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara did not disagree.
“He was magic. He’s got that magic touch with the bat, with the ball and even on the field,” Sangakkara said after his team buried Zimbabwe under a run mountain.
Chasing 328 for an improbable victory, Zimbabwe got off to a strong start with Brendan Taylor (80) and Regis Chakabva (35) showing scant respect for the Sri Lanka bowlers during their 116-run stand.
But once Muttiah Muralitharan (three for 34), playing his last One-Day International in his home town, separated them by removing Chakabva in the 20th over, Zimbabwe came unstuck, folding for 188 in 39 overs.
Wary of the dew factor, Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura had asked Sri Lanka to bat first and could only watch helplessly as his teammates retrieved ball after ball from the boundary line before tasting their first success in the 45th over.
Dilshan and Tharanga made merry on a feeble attack, rendered even weaker by Zimbabwe’s decision to hold back left-arm spinner Ray Price.
It was not mindless slogging either by Dilshan, who hit the lone six of the Sri Lankan innings, or Tharanga, who shared 33 fours between them. (Reuters)