Monday 18 December 2017

Cricket: Lions run riot in cup opener

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara insisted batsman Mahela Jayawardene was the "real star" of his side's 210-run victory against Canada in their World Cup opener at Hambantota.

The Lions put themselves in charge from the beginning as Jayawardene's century off just 81 balls laid the foundation -- after opener Tillakaratne Dilshan's 50 - which was backed up by a 179-run third-wicket stand he shared with Sangakkara (92).

The 333-run target was always likely to prove too tough for minnows Canada and so it proved as their top half crumbled for 53 -- with Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara grabbing three wickets apiece -- and they eventually ended with just 122 on the board.

Wicketkeeper Sangakkara finished with three catches and a stumping to complete a superb individual performance, but the skipper believed it was the batting that paved the way for the seventh largest World Cup win.

"It was all set up by the openers," Sangakkara said. "They batted very well and gave us a solid start. But the real star was Mahela Jayawardene; it was easy to bat with him. Once we got that foundation and that solidity, we were able to go beyond 300."

New Zealand opened their World Cup by claiming an emphatic 10-wicket victory after bowling Kenya out for only 69 in Chennai.

Hamish Bennett took four wickets while Tim Southee and Jacob Oram took three apiece as Kenya failed to cope with the New Zealand attack. They collapsed from 40-1 to 69 all out in just 23.5 overs. Martin Guptill (39) and Brendon McCullum (26) overhauled the target inside eight overs.

Australia begin their Group A campaign against Zimbabwe today.

Irish Independent

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