Sri Lanka crushes Canada at Cricket World Cup
Mahela Jayawardene hit Sri Lanka's fastest World Cup century as he guided the tournament co-host to a commanding 210-run victory over Canada in Group A on Sunday.
Jayawardene's 100 off 81 balls spurred Sri Lanka to 332-7 in front of 30,000 fans at Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, which was hosting its maiden one-day international.
Fast bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara (3-16) and Thisara Perera (3-24) then ran through the top order as the North Americans were bowled out for 122 in 36.5 overs.
"The real star was Mahela Jayawardene," said captain Kumar Sangakarra, who also paid tribute to opening batsmen Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
"Once we got that foundation we were able to launch and go beyond 300."
Sri Lanka's total revolved around a splendid 179-run third wicket stand between Jayawardene and Sangakkara (92) after the home team opted to bat first.
Sangakkara missed out on a century, but toyed with the inexperienced Canada bowlers before giving a return catch to offspinner John Davison, who finished with 2-56.
Sangakkara hit a straight six off leg-spinner Balaji and also scored seven boundaries before paying the price for a loose shot.
Jayawardene later fell to Davison on the very next ball he faced after breaking Sanath Jayasuriya's 85-ball record, set against Bangladesh in 2007.
Tharanga (19) helped provide the home side with a solid start of 63 off 72 balls alongside Dilshan.
"I thought they batted very well and gave us a solid start," Sangkarra said. "Dilshan went on to get a half century, unfortunately he couldn't kick on."
Tharanga was run out as he drove to wide mid-off, but misjudged a single run. Ruvindu Gunasekera reacted quickly and his sharp throw to Canada captain and wicketkeeper Ashish Bagai caught the diving Tharanga well short of his crease.
Dilshan was shaping up well and drove medium fast bowler Harvir Baidwan for two successive straight boundaries, before throwing away his wicket soon after completing his half century.
Davison took a neat catch at deep cover to end Dilshan's innings before Sangakkara and Jayawardene took charge.
Sangakkara's only blemish came when, on 12 runs, Nitesh Kumar failed to hold a difficult catch at short third man off medium fast bowler Rizwan Cheema.
Bagai twice tried to remove Jayawardene — on 11 and 22 — but wasted both referrals as television umpire Tony Hill turned down appeals off successive overs from spinner Jimmy Hansara.
Canada's bowlers meanwhile started to look ordinary after Ugandan-born Henry Osinde picked up an injury and left the field after bowling just 2.1 overs.
"It's a bit of a worry for us because we have only three seamers on this tour," Bagai said. "I think he's going to be alright."
Jayawardene completed his 13th ODI century — which also featured nine fours and a six — when he turned Davison for a single at midwicket, before sweeping into the hands of Balaji Rao at short fine leg.
Baidwan (2-59) took two late wickets for Canada, but by that time Sri Lanka was looking for quick runs and had shuffled its batting order after Sangakkara and Jaywardene's dominant stand.
Canada's run chase hit trouble before it had even started with Perera clean bowling Davison off the very first delivery. He went on to trap Zubin Surkari leg before wicket and then return to have skipper Bagai (22) caught behind.
Pakistan-born batsman Cheema delayed the inevitable, topscoring with a late 37 off 35 balls. His knock featured two sixes off Muttiah Muralitharan before eventually falling to the master spinner.
"It's always going to be a tough task for us," Bagai said. "For 26 overs we bowled pretty well but two world-class players took the game away from us and 330 was always going to be a tough task."
After its winning start, Sri Lanka continues its World Cup campaign against Pakistan at Colombo on Feb. 26 while Canada takes on Zimbabwe at Nagpur, India on Feb. 28.