Jayawardene stars for Sri Lanka
Mahela Jayawardene’s sublime century was too much for Zimbabwe - and the Guyanese rain - as Sri Lanka set one foot in the ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights.
Jayawardene batted beautifully for an even 100 from 64 balls, featuring 10 fours and four sixes, as he helped Sri Lanka rack up 173 for seven.
Rain at Guyana’s Providence Stadium then interrupted Zimbabwe’s reply after just one over, and they never seriously threatened a revised target of 106 in 11 - eventually losing by 14 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method following another downpour.
Barring a wide-margin Zimbabwe victory in the final group game against New Zealand at the same venue tomorrow, Sri Lanka should progress alongside the Black Caps.
Jayawardene raced past his second successive fifty and surged to his maiden hundred in this format - and the second so far in this tournament, following Suresh Raina’s ton for India against South Africa yesterday.
The opener traded mainly in conventional cricket shots, with the odd paddle sweep or steer fine on the off-side for occasional variety.
Zimbabwe had no answer to Jayawardene, but kept chipping wickets away at the other end.
Tillekeratne Dilshan has been unable to replicate his devastating batting from last year’s World Twenty20 in England - and went for only two when he mistimed a drive at Elton Chigumbura’s first delivery to be caught at mid-off.
Twenty20 debutant Thissara Perera contributed some big blows to a second-wicket stand of 56 in six overs, before smashing a Greg Lamb full toss almost out of the ground only to see the ball well intercepted and held by Chigumbura at long-on.
Neither Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal nor Angelo Mathews could get started - the latter falling to a supremely well-judged catch by Craig Ervine on the deep midwicket boundary off Lamb.
But Jayawardene kept making everything look outrageously easy and duly became just the fourth batsman to make a Twenty20 international hundred, before being caught at long-on off Ray Price as Sri Lanka posted easily this venue’s highest total of the tournament so far.
It proved plenty too, Zimbabwe starting their run chase twice - losing Hamilton Masakadza to a comic run-out - and getting only as far as 29 for one from five overs before rain had the final say and settled the issue in Sri Lanka’s favour.