DateLine: 7th October 2006
Young opener Upul Tharanga hit a chanceless century to set up Sri Lanka's emphatic 37-run win over Bangladesh in a Champions Trophy qualifying match here on Saturday.
The 21-year-old left-hander slammed a 129-ball 105 for his fifth hundred as Sri Lanka batted solidly to post a challenging 302-8 after being put in to bat in the opening day-night game.
Bangladesh struggled from the beginning and rarely looked like achieving the target despite scoring their highest total of 265-9 against Sri Lanka in 18 one-day internationals.
Teenager Saqibul Hasan top-scored with an unbeaten 67 for his maiden half-century while Farhad Reza (34), Aftab Ahmed (33) and Mashrafe Mortaza (30) batted aggressively, but their efforts were not good enough.
"He (Hasan) was impressive, but we could not rotate the strike too well," said Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar.
"We kept losing wickets at regular intervals and unfortunately none of us could stay with him for long periods."
Sri Lanka virtually wrapped up the match when seamers Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando shared the opening four wickets to reduce Bangladesh to 78-4.
The seamers were supported by wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara who had a hand in the first three dismissals, including a superb diving catch to his left to account for Shahriar Nafees.
Ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan became the second-highest wicket-taker in one-day internationals when he had Reza stumped, surpassing former Pakistani paceman Waqar Younis's 416 victims in one-day internationals.
Ex-Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram is the leading wicket-taker with 502, followed by the Sri Lankan (417).
"We have set standards in the last four months, but we want to keep improving," said Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, whose team conceded 36 extras including 21 wides.
"We are coming back after a long lay-off and that affected us. Bangladesh batted pretty well, but we did not bowl well apart from quick bowlers."
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, defending champions West Indies and Zimbabwe play qualifying matches before the main tournament begins on October 15.
Each side will play three league games before the top two advance to the main draw that features world champions Australia, England, India, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan.
Sri Lanka boosted their chances of making it to the main draw, thanks to Tharanga who dominated the Bangladeshi seamers and spinners with a wide range of strokes on an easy-paced track.
He hit one six and 11 fours.
The opener added 67 for the opening wicket with veteran Sanath Jayasuriya (31) and 63 for the next with Jayawardene (35).
"It's a bonus for a youngster like myself to have Sanath at the other end. I can play my normal game when he is with me," said Tharanga, who was named man of the match.
Fit-again Marvan Atapattu, returning to the side after six months, also made merry with a 42-ball 40 as Sri Lanka plundered 73 in the last 10 overs.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)