WC 2003 - Centurion Styris lone warrior in New Zealand's ruins

Published: Friday, February 7, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Bloemfontein (South Africa): Skipper Sanath Jayasuriya cracked a masterly century to lead Sri Lanka to an important 47-run victory over New Zealand in the World Cup group 'B' match on Monday.The dashing left-hander smashed 120 off 125 balls, his 16th One-day century, as Sri Lanka piled up an imposing 272 for seven from 50 overs after being sent to bat at the Goodyear Park.The Kiwis managed only 225 in reply despite a brilliant 141 from Scott Styris, which came after openers Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle fell in the first two overs and half the side was back in the pavilion for 95.Styris hit three boundaries and six sixes in his 125-ball knock, but could not prevent Sri Lanka from running away with an emphatic win.With New Zealand set to forfeit points to Kenya for refusing to play in Nairobi on February 21 due to security reasons, the defeat leaves Fleming's men in further trouble in the race for the super six round.Sri Lanka, on the other hand, can look forward to the rest of the preliminary league with confidence after enjoying a slice of luck at the start.Jayasuriya's match-winning knock happened only because English umpire Neil Mallender turned down a confident appeal for a catch at the wicket early in the innings.Television replays showed the delivery from Daryl Tuffey had taken the edge of the bat before carrying to wicket-keeper Lou Vincent.By the time Mallender ruled Jayasuriya leg-before to Nathan Astle in the 35th over, the Sri Lankans had taken 15 fours off the frustrated Kiwis to lift the score to 193 for two.Hashan Tillekeratne, a more subdued left-hander than his captain, put on a record 170 for the second wicket with Jayasuriya after Marvan Atapattu had departed for six.The partnership was Sri Lanka's highest for the second wicket in the World Cup. Batting with a runner in the later part of his innings due to cramps, Tillekeratne returned unbeaten on 81.New Zealand's reply began on a disastrous note when Astle was run out by Chaminda Vaas off the fifth ball of the innings.In the next over, Fleming went to a catch behind the stumps off seamer Pulasthi Gunaratne, who also removed Craig McMillan in identical fashion.When Chris Cairns and Lou Vincent fell to spin, New Zealand's cause was lost, but Styris delayed the end with a gutsy effort.Fleming had opted to field first after winning the toss to take advantage of the early life in the wicket at the Goodyear Park.But as the wicket dried out, Jayasuriya launched a breathtaking assault on the bowlers.Astle, the seventh bowler to be deployed by Fleming to stem the run flow, picked up Jayasuriya in his first over and added two more wickets to finish with three for 34 from seven overs.Sri Lanka lost three wickets for 20 runs soon after Jayasuriya's departure, but Tillekeratne held the innings together to take the total beyond New Zealand's reach."It required two of us to stay there and it was Hashan and me who did it today,"Jayasuriya said."It was quite hot and humid and not very easy to bat. But at the end of the day, we havewon and that is the important thing."Fleming admitted he had read the wicket wrong when he asked Sri Lanka to take firststrike."It was slower than we expected which surprised me. We lost our way at the start ofthe innings," he said."Styris was superb today, but Jayasuriya took the game away from us."

Copyright AFP 2001

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