Hosts Sri Lanka defeated minnows Canada by 210 runs in their opening match of the ICC World Cup 2011 yesterday evening. At the newly built Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota, the hosts batting first piled up 332 for 7 in 50 overs. Canada who struggled to have 11 fit players on the park due to the humid conditions could come up with only 122 in reply with the bat with their innings lasting 36.5 overs.
Sri Lanka were actually off to a slow start with the pitch not conducive for free strokeplay. Opener Tillakaratne Dilshan came up with a rusty 50 from 59 balls with 8 fours. Two other experienced batsmen – Skipper Kumar Sangakkara (92 from 87 balls with 7 fours and a six) and Mahela Jayawardene (100 from 81 balls with 9 fours and a six) produced the runs. The pair had put up a third wicket partnership of 179 runs. Mahela Jayawardene registered the fastest Sri Lankan century in World Cup matches breaking the previous record held by Sanath Jayasuriya.
The hosts then bowled well with Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera moving the ball around under the lights to take three wickets each. Sri Lanka introduced spin very early in the Canada innings to try and get 20 overs in before any thunderstorms hit the ground. However, the rain stayed away and the match went on without any interruptions. Middle order bat Rizwan Cheema was the top scorer for Canada with 37 from 35 balls which contained 4 fours and 2 sixes. The only worry for the Lankans was that the two main spinners Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis failed to run through the Canadian batting.