Sri Lanka, N.Z. Start Cricket World Cup With Lopsided Victories

Sri Lanka, the last team before three-time defending champion Australia to win the Cricket World Cup, opened its bid for a second title with a 210-run thrashing of Canada. New Zealand routed Kenya by 10 wickets.

Mahela Jayawardene hit the fastest World Cup century by a Sri Lankan yesterday on his way to 100 from 81 balls and captain Kumar Sangakkara struck 92 to lift their team to 332-7 from 50 overs in Hambantota. Canada was bowled out for 122 in 36.5 overs.

“Always the first game is going to be a bit nerve-wracking,” man-of-the-match Jayawardene said at the post-match presentation ceremony. “The guys gave us a good start. We just needed a bit of a momentum shift in the middle and that’s what I did. It was a good start for the World Cup.”

Sri Lanka, the 1996 champion and runner-up to Australia four years ago, is hosting cricket’s four-yearly world championship with India and Bangladesh. The Australians, who also won the trophy in 1987, start their title defense today against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad, India.

Jayawardene reached three figures from 80 balls before getting out on the next delivery. His 13th century in one-day internationals was the fourth-fastest in World Cup history.

Opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan scored 50 runs for Sri Lanka, while Rizwan Cheema led Canada’s reply with 37. Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera each took three Canadian wickets.

Kenya in Chennai

Also in Group A, fast bowler Hamish Bennett took 4-16 and Tim Southee and Jacob Oram each took three wickets as New Zealand beat Kenya by 10 wickets in Chennai after bowling out the African team for 69.

Black Caps openers Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum needed just eight overs to reach the victory target, finishing on 72-0.

“We did not expect to win this easily, but it helps us going into our next game against Australia,” New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said in comments on the International Cricket Council’s website.

The top four from each of the seven-team groups advance to the quarterfinals after a round-robin competition.

India opened the 49-match tournament two days ago by beating Bangladesh by 87 runs.

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