Cricket: Jayawardene sets up big win

Veteran batsman Mahela Jayawardene smashed a sparkling century as Sri Lanka crushed Canada by 210 runs in their opening World Cup match at Mahinda Rajapakse Stadium on Sunday.

The 33-year-old scored his ton off 80 balls for his 13th one-day hundred, and the fourth fastest in World Cup history, which boosted his team's total to 332-7, much to the enjoyment of a sell-out 35,000 crowd.

New-ball bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara (3-16) and Thisara Prerea (3-24) combined to bundle Canada out for 122 in 36.5 overs.

SCOREBOARD

The lop-sided contest would have given weight to the International Cricket Council's decision to restrict the next World Cup - to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2015 - to the top 10 teams, minus minor nations.

Earlier in the day New Zealand had mauled Kenya by 10 wickets in Chennai, after bowling out Kenya for just 69.

Canada, who promised much by putting up a valiant fight against England during their 16-run defeat in a warm-up last week, found the co-hosts too tough to handle in the Group A clash.

"The real star was Mahela Jayawardene," said Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara.

"Once we got the foundation and that solidity we were able to launch and go beyond 300."

Canada captain Asish Bagai admitted chasing such a huge target was always going to be a tough proposition.

"Two world-class players took the game away from us and 330 was always going to be a tough ask," he said.

Sangakkara mixed up his bowling options as Canada lost wickets at regular intervals once their most experienced batsman John Davison had been bowled off Perera's first delivery of the second over.

Hard-hitting Rizwan Cheema top-scored with 37, including two sixes off world record wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan, while skipper Ashish Bagai, with 22, showed some resistance.

Jayawardene had laid the foundation for Sri Lanka's total with an invaluable third wicket partnership of 179 with Sangakkara, who made 92.

Jayawardene and Sangakkara built on the platform set by opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (50) after Sri Lanka won the toss at this new ground which became the 177th one-day venue.

Jayawardene completed his hundred with a single off spinner Davison after facing just 80 deliveries - the fastest by a Sri Lankan in the World Cup, beating Sanath Jayasuriya's 85-ball ton against Bangladesh at Port of Spain four years ago.

But Davison dismissed him in the same over, caught at short fine-leg after Jayawardene had hit nine boundaries and a six.

Sri Lanka lost a cluster of wickets in the death overs, but Angelo Mathews (21) and Thilan Samarwaweera (18 not out) ensured they got past 300.

Dilshan (50) and Upul Tharanga put on a quick 63 for the first wicket by the 12th over before a mix-up between the two sent Tharanga back, run out for 19.

Dilshan fell just after scoring his third World Cup half-century, holing out at deep cover to Davison after hitting eight boundaries off 59 deliveries.

It was then left to Jayawardene and Sangakkara to punish a hapless Canadian attack, depleted by an injury to spearhead Henry Osinde who walked off the field due to a hamstring problem after bowling only 13 balls.

Jayawardene, who survived two caught behind referral appeals against spinner Jimmy Hansra, upped the tempo by hitting the same bowler for the first six at this ground.

He then clobbered four boundaries in successive overs from Davison, but the veteran Canadian broke the partnership by having Sangakkara caught and bowled.

Sangakkara hit seven fours and a six during his 87-ball knock.

Sri Lanka now face Pakistan in their second match on February

26. Pakistan play Kenya here on Wednesday.

- AFP

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