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Double trouble

It is said that aggression evokes more attention. It is also said that the difference between aggression and assertion is in its intent. Tillakaratne Dilshan's match-winning performance for Sri Lanka in their Group 'A' tie against Zimbabwe was a mix of the statements. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecard

cricket Updated: Mar 11, 2011 01:41 IST
Amol Karhadkar

It is said that aggression evokes more attention. It is also said that the difference between aggression and assertion is in its intent. Tillakaratne Dilshan's match-winning performance for Sri Lanka in their Group 'A' tie against Zimbabwe was a mix of the statements.

Hurt after being unnecessarily, and wrongly, accused of failing a dope test, Dilshan was expected to vent his anger on the mediocre Zimbabwea attack. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/110311/11_03_pg21b.jpg

Not only did he do so with his match-winning hundred and a record-breaking 286-run opening partnership with Upul Tharanga, he also registered his best figures with the ball during Sri Lanka's 139-run mauling of the African minnows.

After being put in by Elton Chigumbura, Dilshan and Tharanga started off with a bang and then settled in nicely as records fell like nine pins. If Dilshan's onslaught and Tharanga's delicate touches were not enough, the Zimbabwe bowlers' woes were doubled by their fielders, who leaked runs consistently.

With Sri Lanka opting to go in with Muttiah Muralitharan as the lone spinner, Dilshan was introduced in the 28th over with Zimbabwe at 149 for three, chasing Sri Lanka's 327 for six.

High on confidence, Dilshan picked three wickets in his two overs of off-spin.

Had Mahela Jayawardene latched on to a difficult chance off Graeme Cremer's edge in the 30th over, he would have created history by getting a century and hat-trick in the same match.

The biggest sigh from the packed house came three balls later when Muralitharan, the local star who was making his last on-field appearance in his hometown, spilled a skier at the fine-leg boundary.

More than the loud cheer for each of Dilshan's 17 hits to the fence, including one over it, and the 22 boundaries from his teammates, the crowd burst into a roar when the man with the golden arm gave Sri Lanka their first breakthrough.

Just when Brendan Taylor and Regis Chakabva looked threatening, Muralitharan produced a ripper — his trademark doosra — in the 20th over that pitched on leg and middle and crashed into the off-stump to stun Chakabva.

From 116 for no loss, Zimbabwe were reduced to 165 for seven in no time and Murali completed the rout in a befitting manner when he bowled last man Christopher Mpofu round his legs off the last ball of the 39th over.

Murali made his swansong at home a memorable one, but more importantly, he, along with Dilshan and Tharanga, got Sri Lanka's stuttering campaign back on track.