Sri Lanka survive Moeen assault
Sri Lanka were given a major fright by Moeen Ali before warming up for their Twenty20 and one-day clashes against England with a 57-run win over Worcestershire at New Road.
Moeen hammered 136 off just 90 balls - his highest limited-overs score - with 16 fours and three sixes as a depleted Worcestershire chased a target of 352 in 50 overs.
They were 229 for three with 20 overs remaining with Moeen in full flow, but his dismissal effectively settled the contest.
Sri Lanka’s batsman also looked in fine touch, Jeevan Mendis leading the onslaught with an unbeaten 99 off 71 balls, including 11 fours and three sixes.
But there was also the encouragement of veteran Sanath Jayasuriya making a rapid 78 after being recalled for the Twenty20 international at Bristol and the first match of the NatWest Series at the Kia Oval.
Sri Lanka opted to bat after winning the toss against a Worcestershire side showing seven changes from the line-up which defeated Hampshire in the LV= County Championship yesterday.
Jayasuriya, who played for the Royals in the Friends Provident t20 last season, and fellow opener Mahela Jayawardene scored freely against the new-ball attack of Matt Mason and Chris Whelan.
Whelan conceded seven wides in his opening three overs, which cost 25, but Worcestershire debutant Saeed Ajmal checked Sri Lanka’s progress with two wickets in two balls in his first over.
The Pakistan off-spinner had Jayawardene, attempting to cut, caught behind for 18 with his second delivery and Dinesh Chandimal lbw with his next.
Jayasuriya had struck 10 fours and three sixes off 60 deliveries by the time he flicked spinner Shaaiq Choudhry to Ajmal at deep square-leg.
Thilina Kandamby was taken at short third man via a top edge as he swung across the line at the impressive Ajmal, but from 169 for four Angelo Matthews and Mendis added 163 in less than 23 overs.
Mendis went to his half-century in spectacular fashion with three successive sixes off Choudhry, and Mathews had made 81 when he holed out to James Cameron at long-off off Whelan. His 90-ball innings contained two sixes and five fours.
Ajmal finished with 3-42 but Whelan conceded 82 off 10 overs and Choudhry 69 off seven.
Worcestershire went about their stiff task with relish despite the early loss of Jack Manuel to Lasith Malinga, with Moeen leading the run charge.
The former Warwickshire batsman shared partnerships of 109 in 11 overs with Alexei Kervezee, who made 45, and 106 in 14 overs with James Cameron, who hit 65, as a strong Sri Lanka attack came in for heavy punishment.
Moeen went to his century off 71 balls and beyond his previous limited-overs best of 125, made against Hampshire in 2009.
However, after he skied Ajantha Mendis to wicketkeeper Chandimal, the innings went into rapid decline. The last six wickets tumbled for 24 runs as Worcestershire were dismissed for 294 with 6.4 overs unused.