Tharanga ton helps Sri Lanka win

Mohali, October 7 :

Opening batsman Upul Tharanga crafted an attractive century on Saturday as Sri Lanka started its qualifying campaign for the main round of the ICC Champions Trophy with a 37-run victory over Bangladesh.

Tharanga’s 105 off 129 balls piloted Sri Lanka to 302-8 and Bangladesh was restricted to 265-9 — its best-ever total against Sri Lanka.

Saqibul Hasan, a 19-year-old Bangladesh left-hander, fought a lone battle and top-scored with an unbeaten 67 off 107 balls — his maiden half century in limited-overs cricket.

Bangladesh top order batsmen wilted under pressure to score better than run a ball against Sri Lankan three-pronged seam attack. Wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara took two smart catches to get rid of openers Shahriar Nafees (5) and Mohammad Ashraful (18).

Right-arm seamer Farveez Maharoof struck twice in the space of three deliveries to remove stroke-player Aftab Ahmed (33) and captain Habibul Bashar as Bangladesh slumped to 78-4 in the 19th over. Maharoof returned for his second spell and accounted for the wicket of Abdur Razzaq in the last over to finish with 3-47.

Star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan took his tally of wickets in limited-overs internationals to 417 — second behind Pakistan’s world record holder Wasim Akram (502) when he had Reza stumped.

Earlier, Tharanga registered his fifth hundred in 30th limited-overs match before he was bowled by medium fast Mashrafe Mortaza in the 43rd over. Bangladesh’s seam bowlers failed to contain the strong Sri Lankan batting lineup after Bashar won the toss and elected to field first in the day-night game.

Sri Lanka got off to a strong start with opening pair Sanath Jayasuriya (31) and Tharanga laying a solid foundation of 67 runs. After left-arm seamer Syed Rasel trapped Jayasuriya lbw in the 14th over, Tharanga featured in three other solid half century partnerships with Mahela Jayawardene (35), Kumar Sangakkara (22) and Marvan Atapattu (40). Captain Jayawardene showed some flare with his bat when he hit three fours and a six in medium fast Farhad Reza’s one over, but went on to mistime a sweep and gave a simple catch at mid-wicket.

Former Sri Lanka captain Atapattu — returning to international cricket after a six-month layoff due to a back injury — made an aggressive 40 off 42 balls with seven boundaries. Spinner Abdur Razzaq (2-49) and Rasel (2-65) were the main wicket-takers for Bangladesh.

Under the new tournament format, Sri Lanka, defending champion the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will play each other once each in the qualifying stage, with the top two teams advancing to the main round beginning October 15. World No 1 Australia, England and India are placed in Group A when the Champions Trophy properly gets underway, while Group B comprises Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand.

Sri Lanka takes on Zimbabwe in its next match at Ahmedabad on October 10 while Bangladesh’s next game is against the West Indies at Jaipur on October 11.