Ton-Up Samaraweera Defies Age And New Zealand
Sri Lanka 216-7 (Samaraweera 104, Mathews 51) v New Zealand
Tri-Series One-Day International, Colombo
Thilan Samaraweera became the oldest Sri Lankan to register a maiden One-Day International century and it was his brilliant effort that hauled his side up a score of 216 for seven at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo as they took on New Zealand in the tri-series opener.
Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and had no hesitation in deciding to bat first but soon found himself at the crease when Tillakaratne Dilshan played on to Daryl Tuffey for four.
Mahela Jayawardene then steered Shane Bond to slip for four, Sanath Jayasuriya spooned the same bowler to Ian Butler at third man and when Sangakkara (18) lofted Butler into the deep where Jacob Oram held the catch, Sri Lanka were in trouble at 38 for four thanks to a superb opening spell from Bond and Tuffey, who showed everyone exactly how much they have been missed in the last two years.
Samaraweera had begun to put things right but quickly lost partner Thilina Kandamby, who drilled Daniel Vettori to Ross Taylor at midwicket having made 15 but Samaraweera found a willing ally in Angelo Mathews.
The pair of them batted calmly and steadily and they slowly but surely batted Sri Lanka back into the game, almost exlcusively with singles.
That all changed when the batting Power Play was taken, Samaraweera opening up to display a full range of strokes and he got to his hundred from 122 balls when a misfield from Grant Elliott allowed him three where there should have been just one.
Mathews reached his second ODI half-century before Bond returned to have him bowled for 51 on his way to figures of three for 43 and Samaraweera's fine knock was ended when he too was bowled trying to scoop Butler over fine leg having made 104 in 124 balls.
Thilan Thushara and Nuwan Kulasekara both finished unbeaten on six to give New Zealand a chance - they have a good record of defending such scores at this ground.
Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Thilina Kandamby, Angelo Mathews, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Thushara, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Daniel Vettori (captain), Shane Bond, Daryl Tuffey, Ian Butler
© Cricket World 2009