Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sangakkara’s 4th straight ton leads Sri Lanka to big win


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HOBART, Australia (AP) — Kumar Sangakkara scored an unprecedented fourth consecutive century to set Sri Lanka on course for a 148-run victory over Scotland at the Cricket World Cup on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Sangakkara, caught behind for 124 off 95 balls, became the first batsman to score hundreds in four successive one-day internationals. In the last 13 days, he’s posted unbeaten centuries in wins over Bangladesh and England, and was out for 104 in Sunday’s loss to Australia.

He plans to retire from ODIs after the tournament.

“Sometimes things just fall into place, everything clicks,” Sangakkara said while accepting man-of-the-match honours.

“Maybe it’s because I’m making a lot of better decisions, the right decisions at the right time, taking risks at the right time, being more calculated, being a bit more positive. I don’t know what that one thing is, but whatever it is, it’s working for me at the moment, and I’d like to hold on to that for as long as I can.”

Together with Tillakaratne Dilshan, whose 104 was his second ton of the tournament, their 195-run, second-wicket partnership founded Sri Lanka’s 363-9 total.

It was their 20th century partnership, second best in ODI history.

“It is a great experience to play with Kumar,” Dilshan said. “I hope we can continue to bat as long as possible together, and keep on producing the big partnerships.”

Another teammate, opener Lahiru Thirimanne, was equally as effusive.

“We are all privileged to share the same dressing room with him,” Thirimanne said. “It is fantastic he is playing so wonderfully at the moment, and hopefully he continues his form in the quarterfinals.”

Scotland lost opener Kyle Coetzer, caught and bowled by Lasith Malinga, on the second ball of the innings, and never threatened to win their first World Cup match in 13 attempts. The Scots were bowled out for 215 runs in the 44th over.

Freddie Coleman (70) and captain Preston Mommsen (60) put on a fourth-wicket century partnership in the only bright spot for Scotland.

Sri Lanka, who had already qualified for the quarterfinals, completed the pool stage in second place in Pool A, and wait to learn their quarterfinal opponent next Wednesday in Sydney. Australia, who meet Scotland in Hobart on Saturday, are likely to rise above Sri Lanka in the pool.

Sri Lanka were in complete control in their innings until Josh Davey (3-63) took the first of his key wickets to dismiss Dilshan to make the total 216-2. Davey removed Mahela Jayawardene (2) and Sangakkara on consecutive balls in the 37th over as Sri Lanka wobbled from 216-1 to 244-4. Those wickets lifted Davey’s tally to 14 in the tournament — leading all bowlers so far.

Coetzer said the team’s bowlers could do nothing except be patient against Sangakkara.

“It’s impressive to watch,” Coetzer said. “As a bowling unit you’ve just got to stick in there, and you just want to get one to nick away … but obviously he’s a fine player in some very fine form and any side will do well to knock him over early.”

Skipper Angelo Mathews (51) hit sixes on four consecutive balls from off spinner Matt Macham to reach his 50 from 20 balls — the second fastest of the tournament — but was out next ball when he was caught at deep mid-wicket by Coleman.

Mathews hit six sixes and a boundary, but left the field with a sore lower leg, and Thirimanne said he will go for scans on Thursday. Sri Lanka have already had to replace five injured squad members.

Scotland lost both of their openers quickly, falling to 26-2.

Coleman had a reprieve to reach 55 when he was dropped by Kusal Perera, making his World Cup debut, on a straightforward chance off the bowling of Dushmantha Chameera, who took 3-51. Nuwan Kulasekara added 3-20.

Even with the Coleman-Mommsen partnership, Scotland needed an overwhelming 176 runs from 90 balls over the final 15 overs, or 12 runs an over, and it was too much.


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