Day 19 of the 10th ICC World Cup was illuminated by a record-breaking stand from Sri Lanka’s opening batsmen Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga who added 282 together against a tiring Zimbabwean attack.
Right-handed Dilshan led the way – making 144 from 131 deliveries before falling in the 46th over, just six balls after his left-handed partner had been first to head back to the pavilion. Tharanga fell for 133, hoisting Christopher Mpofu into the deep where skipper Elton Chigumbura pouched the catch.
England and Sri Lanka have only ever met once before in Nottingham in the 50-over format, with the hosts winning by 44 runs in 2002.
Chigumbura may have been justified in expressing his relief, having invited the Sri Lankans to have first bat after he had won the toss.
In just the second-ever ODI to be played at the new Pallekele Stadium outside Kandy (New Zealand defeated Pakistan there on Tuesday in the ground-launching match) Sri Lanka lost late wickets in pursuit of quick runs and closed their innings on 327-6.
Dilshan and Tharanga’s partnership is the highest-ever 1st wicket stand in any of the ICC World Cup competitions and is second only to a 2nd wicket stand of 318 by India’s Raul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly’s, posted at Taunton in 1999, in terms of the highest ever in the tournament.
For 34 year old Dilshan it was his 9th ODI century in 198 matches, whilst Tharanga’s 10th ODI ton was also his highest score and the stand came within 4 runs of the ODI best of 286 – in which Tharanga also played his part, alongside Sanath Jayasuriya against England at Headingley in 2006.
Understandably Sri Lanka remain one of the favourites to win the tournament, ahead of their tour to England this summer.
Dilshan, Tharanga and some of Sri Lanka’s other world-class stars, like Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Mahela Jayawardene and skipper Kumar Sangakarra will be playing at Trent Bridge on Wednesday 6 July in a floodlit One Day International against England.
The two countries have only ever met once before in Nottingham in the 50-over format, with the hosts winning by 44 runs in 2002, with Andrew Flintoff winning the Man of the Match award thanks to a quickfire unbeaten half century and a return of 3-49 with the ball.
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