Bangalore: Sri Lanka posted a formidable 221 for six in its reduced quota of 36 overs at Sinhalese Sports Club on Tuesday in the seventh match of the Coca Cola triangular series.
Jayawardene was the star of Sri Lanka's spectacular effort, coming into form with a belligerent 58 off 46 balls. Atapattu, too, contributed with 34 of 39 balls. Both the teams arrived at the SSC looking forward to a keen tussle - a victory to either side vital to their progress to the final - but were put on hold for a while. Early morning showers continued to come down at the SSC for while before it subsided thus reducing the match to 36 overs a side. Opting to field New Zealand did not make the early inroads that it would have desired as Jayasuriya played his customary lofted shots to snatch away any early advantage the Black Caps might have sought.
With fielding restrictions (maximum two outside the circle) brought down to ten overs Sri Lanka made rapid progress on a tightly bound surface that had a nice carry through. Jaysuriya perished in the sixth over caught at short fine-leg by Tuffey when he tried to flick Mills. He made a quick-fire 20 off 21 balls - Sri Lanka losing its first wicket for 32. Gunawardene and Kaluwitharana, then, went about accumulating the runs at a fair clip - Kaluwitharana, in particular, finding the ropes pretty consistently. Gunawardene, who has been out of sorts thus far- not as quick as he normally is off the block, struck a few boundaries to keep up the momentum. The partnership, which was threatening a complete take over, was stopped in its stride when Jacob Oram effected a brilliant run out - more in the Jonty fashion. The pair had put on 57 runs in 11 overs before Kaulwitharana was found short of his crease. Kaluwitharana made 25 of 36 deliveries.
Twenty runs later Sri Lanka lost Gunawardene top edging Harris when he tried to turn Harris around his legs. Sinclair running from mid-wicket completed a fine catch running towards mid-on to put further breaks on Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka at this stage was 109 for three in the 21st over. But Jayawardene had other thoughts. This being a 36-over match, Sri Lanka could continue to play aggressively and Jayawardene in the company of Atapattu did exactly that - putting up 56 runs in nine over. Both Jaywardene and Atapattu striking at close to a 100 per cent. Atatpattu (34 off 39) perished in trying to heave Vettori in the slog overs. However, this did not slow the Sri Lankans down as Jawayardene let loose, clubbing the bowlers around to take Sri Lanaka to a formidable position.
Jayawarden who was struggling for runs thus far struck timely form; bringing up his fifty (in just 41 balls) in the process. The Sri Lankan's went on a rampage after that finding the ropes with utter disdain. Jayawardene's hurricane innings (58 of 46) came to an end in his endeavour to press for more runs - he was caught by Nash in the deep off McMillan. Sri Lanka, however, at this stage was firmly in front at 108 for five in the 35th over. Sri Lanka finally finished with 221 for six in its reduced quota of 36 overs. With stroke-making on this pitch being easier than the previous outing New Zealand may not be out of the reckoning as yet. However, they will have to play extremely well against a potent new-ball attack and later on take on the skilful spinners.