Rohit outshines Mathews with record five centuries | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Rohit outshines Mathews with record five centuries

Angelo Mathews reacts after  scoring his century  (Pix: Kamal Jayamanne)
Angelo Mathews reacts after scoring his century (Pix: Kamal Jayamanne)

LEEDS, Saturday – Angelo Mathews’ love affair with Headingley continued when he carved out the third ODI hundred of his career in Sri Lanka’s final World Cup match of the competition against India here on Saturday.

Mathews’ brilliant effort of scoring 113 off 128 balls (10 fours, 2 sixes) wasn’t good enough to stop India from posting a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka and keeping their hopes alive of finishing on top of the standings.

Rohit Sharma drives a ball on his way to a fifth century    

Sri Lanka looked as if they had botched up the opportunity of winning the toss and batting first on a re-used surface when they slumped to 55-4 by the 12th over, but a century partnership between Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne saw them recover to post a competitive total of 264-7 on a slow turning pitch.

However India boosted by a century opening stand of 189 off 181 balls between the in-form Rohit Sharma who became the first man to score five hundreds in a single World Cup and Lokesh Rahul who also made a hundred (111 off 118 balls, 11 fours, 1 six) took them home in the 44th over quite comfortably with 39 balls to spare.

Man of the Match Sharma’s 103 off 94 balls (14 fours, 2 sixes) took him past Shakib-Al Hasan’s aggregate of 606 runs and made him the leading run-getter in the current tournament with 647 runs from 8 matches, 27 runs short of breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 673 runs from 11 matches in the 2003 World Cup.

The last occasion Mathews scored a hundred (111 n.o.) against India at Chandigarh in 2017, Sharma ended up making a double hundred (208 n.o.) at Chandigarh in 2017.

The Lankan top order batting was undone by the deceptive pace of Jasprit Bumrah who sent back openers Dimuth Karunaratne (10) and Kusal Perera (18) in his opening spell of four overs for eight runs. It was Bumrah’s ability to build pressure on the batsman by bowling dot balls that led to both dismissals.

Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja kept on the pressure by sending back the inform Avishka Fernando for 20 and Kusal Mendis for 3. Both were out to poor strokes. Mendis not getting to the pitch of the ball as he attempted to take on Jadeja and being in no man’s land when the lighting reflexes of MS Dhoni went to work, and Fernando attempting to guide a slow bouncer from Pandya that did not have any pace at all and presenting Dhoni with his fourth dismissal.

Mathews and Thirimanne provided the best batting of the innings putting together 124 off 157 balls. The stand was ended when Thirimanne sliced a catch to point off Kuldeep Yadav to end his innings at 53 off 68 balls (4 fours).

Mathews unable to play the role of impact player because of the rest of the batting has not been firing survived a dropped chance at 61 when Kumar spilled him at deep mid-wicket off Jadeja, but otherwise batted with the calm assurance for his first fifty that came off 76 balls and went to his hundred with an uppercut four off Pandya.

In the context of where Sri Lanka were at one stage Mathews’ century was a tremendous effort with his second fifty coming off 41 balls. It was this third ODI century and all three have been scored against India.

Before yesterday’s century Mathews had scored an undefeated 85 against England at this venue on June 21 and his Test best of 160 is also at Headingley against England in 2014. On both these instances Sri Lanka ran out winners. But not so yesterday as their bowling lacked the sting to contain the strong Indian batting line-up. Even the great Lasith Malinga with all his IPL experience and playing in his final fifty-over World Cup could not make an impact on the slow surface. He took the wicket of Rahul to go past Wasim Akram to number three in the highest World Cup wicket-takers list.

What Sri Lanka was expecting from Mathews as a batsman arrived a shade too late for their World Cup campaign to be a successful one. Nevertheless it was a brilliant knock and he deserved the big ovation he received when he was eventually dismissed in the 49th over.

Dhananjaya de Silva helped Mathews in a stand of 74 off 63 balls, but after the former skipper’s dismissal he could not accelerate with only 11 runs coming off the last 10 balls.

Bumrah no doubt was the pick of the Indian bowlers returning impressive figures of 3 for 37, but overall India made Sri Lanka work hard for every run with some splendid fielding although a couple of chances went a begging.