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Tharanga ton helps Lanka qualify
October 10, 2006 19:35 IST
Last Updated: October 10, 2006 23:48 IST
In-form opener Upul Tharanga's second consecutive hundred guided Sri Lanka to a 144-run victory over Zimbabwe and a qualifiers' slot in the main rounds of the Champions Trophy on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Tharanga, who created history in the opening match against Bangladesh in Mohali by becoming the first batsman to notch five hundreds in his first 30 One-Day Internationals, carried his rich form on way to scoring 110 after Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and elected to bat on a placid Motera stadium wicket.
The left-hander hit 13 fours and a six in his 130-ball essay as Sri Lanka, opting to bat, scored 285 for seven in the day-night game.
Zimbabwe, who lost to defending champions the West Indies in their opening match, were bowled out for 141 in 42.3 overs, handing the Sri Lankans their second straight win in the four-team qualifiers.
Paceman Lasith Malinga was the wrecker-in-chief, claiming three wickets for 25 runs.
Brendan Taylor (30) and Hamilton Masakadza (30) provided a semblance of resistance before the Zimbabwe innings folded in 42.3 overs, in what turned out to be a lop-sided contest.
The West Indies will also ensure a place in the main stage if they prevail over Bangladesh in a qualifying match in Jaipur on Wednesday.
In that case, the match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies in Mumbai on Saturday will determine which team goes into the main stage as the number one qualifer.
The Sri Lankan innings was built around Tharanga's ton. He was involved in a 165-run third-wicket stand with Kumar Sangakkara (80 off 86 balls) after the loss of Sanath Jayasuriya (9) and Jayawardene (4).
Tharanga played a classy knock. He did the bulk of his scoring on the off-side before departing in the 39th over, with Sri Lanka at 219 for 3 and looking set for a 300-plus score.
However, Sangakkara and Dilshan Tilakratne (6) returned soon after him and the Sri Lankan lower order failed to fire in the slog overs as the former World champions set Zimbabwe an asking rate of 5.72 runs per over.
Zimbabwe, staring down the barrel after being mauled by the West Indies, suffered a double setback even before the start of the match as Terry Duffin was forced to miss his second match on the trot due to fever and medium pacer Edward Rainsford made way for Tawanda Mupariwa because of a side strain.
Jayasuriya, who looked uncharacteristically sedate as Tharanga went on the offensive at the other end, gave Zimbabwe their maiden success by running himself out. He charged out of the crease at the non-striker's end after Tharanga had played Tawanda Mupariwa to short mid-of, and Elton Chigumbura's throw dismantled the stumps before the former Sri Lanka captain could return to safety.
Jayawardene got off the mark straightaway with a couple on the leg side, but was not destined to last long as he needlessly chased an away going delivery from Anthony Ireland and the thin edge was gleefully taken by Brendan Taylor behind the stumps, putting Sri Lanka in a spot of bother at 49-2.
Tharanga and Sangakkara then steadied the Lankan ship and put their side in command even as captain Prosper Utseya desperately shuffled the bowling.
Tharanga delighted the sparse crowd with some majestic shots on the off side and got to his half century off 62 balls with an edged boundary past third-man before the 100 of the innings came in the 19th over.
Utseya, who introduced himself in the 22nd over, could do little to check the run flow with his off-spinners, as the two Lankan batsmen went from strength to strength, with Tharanga dispatching Justice Chibhabha to the long of fence to post the 100 of the partnership in 73 minutes, off 122 balls.
Sangakkara got to his 37th 50 in one-day cricket off 66 balls before Tharanga sent Prosper to the deep to reach his hundred taking three runs, but in the process Sanagakkara survived a scare as he just about made it to the crease before Taylor could latch on to the throw and dislodge the bails.
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