Dilshan’s super show sends Sri Lanka through
KANDY(Reuters) Tillakaratne Dilshan produced a superb all-round display with bat and ball to send Sri Lanka through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup with a crushing 139-run win over Zimbabwe yesterday
Dilshan and Upul Tharanga conjured an exquisite display of shotmaking to score a World Cup record 282 runs for the first wicket before Sri Lanka piled on 327-6 from their 50 overs.
Dilshan, who scored a brilliant 144, also took a career best four wickets for four runs with his off-breaks to secure the win after Zimbabwe's openers Brendan Taylor and Regis Chakabva put together a stand of 116. They were eventually all out for 188.
The win, secured in 39 overs, left the co-hosts top of Group A with seven points from five games. They are the first team to reach the last eight.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara paid tribute to his match-winner.
“He was magic. He's got that magic touch with the bat, with the ball and even on the field,” he said.
“He's been one of our most important players over the last 10 years and today again he showed how well he can come back from a couple of tough weeks for him.”
An elated Dilshan added: “This is my best (ever) match and I'm really happy with my performance.”
The match was rounded off by Muttiah Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in the sport, taking his third wicket of the match by bowling last man Chris Mpofu for one.
He savoured his last international match in his home city of Kandy.
“I love playing in Kandy as I've taken almost 100 test wickets in Asgiriya .. it's a sad moment for me but a happy moment for the team because we have qualified for the next round. This is the best ground in the country.”
The day, however, belonged completely to Dilshan who ignored a controversy over an inaccurate media report the day before claiming that he had failed a dope test to dominate from start to finish.
Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura's gamble to field first on a placid track backfired spectacularly as the two home openers batted without giving the Africans a sniff of a chance during the first 44 overs, helping Sri Lanka amass a formidable total.
Zimbabwe were sent on a leather hunt as Dilshan cracked 16 fours and a six in his knock of 144 off 131 balls, while Tharanga played the supporting role.
Tharanga made 133 off 141 balls with 17 fours as the pair sent the fielders scurrying all over the ground.
Dilshan was the first to reach three figures and once he had steered the ball away to set off for a single, he flashed his teeth, pumped his arms and let out an almighty roar as he notched up his first World Cup century in the 31st over.
It was not long before Tharanga also brought the delirious crowd to their feet with his ton but just when it looked as if the openers would carry their bats through the innings, they fell in successive overs.
Taylor (80) and Chakabva (35) put on 116 for the first Zimbabwean wicket before Muralitharan stepped in to bowl the latter.
Dilshan soon assumed centre stage again and in successive balls in the 30th over trapped Craig Ervine (17) lbw and then had Greg Lamb brilliantly caught at slip by Mahela Jayawardene.
Graeme Cremer should have been Dilshan's hat-trick victim but Jayawardene put down a more straightforward chance off the Zimbabwean's snick.