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Tillakaratne Dilshan © Gallo Images

Dilshan stars as Sri Lanka crush Zim

Four wickets and a majestic hundred saw Tillekeratne Dilshan star in Sri Lanka’s emphatic, 139-run win over Zimbabwe in Pallekele on Thursday.

Dilshan struck a maiden World Cup century (144 off 131 balls), and then took four wickets for just four runs in a quite outstanding individual performance.

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The match was dominated by the two opening partnerships, as Zimbabwe’s Brendan Taylor (80) and Regis Chakabva put together 116 in just under 20 overs, to give Sri Lanka a minor scare.

But it was the 282 run union between Dilshan and Upul Tharanga (133 off 141 balls) that really stole the show, as they fell just six runs short of the highest ever partnership in World Cup history.

“This is my career-best match,” Dilshan enthused after his match-winning exploits. “It was a very good wicket to bat on, and the ball came on nicely,” he reflected.


Dilshan signalled his intentions off the second over of the match, as he carted a startled Tinashe Panyangara for 18 runs, including a six. That was the launch pad for a blistering start by the hosts, and they quickly rattled up the 50 partnership in the seventh over.

Dilshan was particularly brutal on anything on his pads, while at the other end, Tharanga drove imperiously.

Dilshan brought up his hundred off 95 balls, as he and Tharanaga marched right on, despite several bowling changes by the Zimbabweans.

Tharanga’s own hundred was not long in coming, and he took 122 balls to get to his first ton at a World Cup. The 250 came up in the 42nd over, and Sri Lanka looked set to mount a cavernous total.

But once the duo fell in quick succession, both caught trying to pick up the tempo, the innings folded rather dramatically.

Chris Mpofu, who came in for some fearful punishment at times, got some revenge, as he grabbed three wickets in the 48th over, as the Sri Lankan middle order fluffed their lines.

Mpofu ended with figures of 4 for 62, but it was the spinning duo of Ray Price (1 for 46) and Prosper Utseya (1 for 50) that did a solid job for the African side.


Chasing 328, the Zimbabweans needed a good start, and this was provided in some style by Taylor and Chakabva.

While the latter was slightly more circumspect, Taylor tore into the home attack. He even played one of the shots of the day, as he lobbed a Lasith Malinga bouncer over the keeper’s head for a one-bounce four.

Taylor’s knock of 80 from 72 balls allowed the Zimbabweans to briefly hold hopes of an upset, as they kept close to the required rate for almost 20 overs.

Their stand of 116 was broken by a fine piece of bowling by Muttiah Muralitharan, as he clipped Chakabva’s off-stump with a wonderful doosra.

Much like the Sri Lankan innings, the Zimbabweans simply crumbled once the first wicket fell.

Taylor and Tatenda Taibu fell to Angelo Mathews, the latter to a sublime catch behind the stumps by Kumar Sangakarra, as the wheels started to come off the African chase.


That prompted the spinners, and Dlishan completed his incredible day with a four-wicket burst that killed off the Zimbabwean effort.

He had Utseya somewhat fortuitously stumped by Sangakarra, as the ball popped out of his hand and onto the bails, before he Craig Ervine and Greg Lamb out off consecutive balls. Lamb fell to a wonderful catch by Jayawardene at slip, though he couldn’t repeat the trick for the hat-trick chance that came his way.

It didn’t matter much, as Muralitharan sealed the win by bowling Mpofu with his final ball at a ground that he has enjoyed much success on.

“I've taken almost 100 wickets in Kandy,” Muralitharan explained. “It is a sad moment for me, but a happy moment for the team. This is the best ground in the country."

Skipper Sangakarra also praised his match-winners.

“We adjusted our line-up for the dew, but things were okay today. The opening stand just took it away. Dilshan has that magic touch with bat, ball and on the field. Murali is a champion, and that's why he is rated the best in the world. When the tough times come, he stands up."

For Zimbabwe, the hiding was another tough lesson, and skipper Chigumbura said he was disappointed with the effort.

“We have to beat Kenya and do well against Pakistan now,” he said of his side's next challenges.


Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakarra (wk/c), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Angelo Mathews, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thishara Perera, Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor, Regis Chakabva, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Prosper Utseya, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura (c), Greg Lamb, Graeme Cremer, Ray Price, Tinashe Panyangara and Chris Mpofu.


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