Sri Lanka Sets India Record Target of 275 Aided by Jayawardene's Century
India will need to mount the highest run chase in Cricket World Cup final history to win its second title after Sri Lanka posted 274-6 on the back of Mahela Jayawardene’s unbeaten century.
Sri Lanka, the 1996 champion, fought back from its worst start in the tournament thanks to Jayawadene’s 103 in 88 balls and a late surge that brought 63 runs from the last five overs at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. The previous highest run chase was Sri Lanka surpassing Australia’s 241 in the 1996 final.
Cricket is a national obsession for India’s 1.2 billion population. Its blue-shirted fans spent as much as $10,000 for entry into the 33,000-capacity ground in the hope of seeing their team become the first host to win a final in the tournament’s 36-year history.
India’s trying to repeat its 1983 success, while national icon Sachin Tendulkar is going for his 100th international century. India would become only the third team in nine finals to win after batting second.
Match referee Jeff Crowe had to call a retake of the pregame coin toss for the first all-Asian final after he failed to hear Kumar Sangakkara’s “heads” call above the crowd noise. India’s start, notably the performance of Zahir Khan, increased the noise.
The left-arm seamer bowled three scoreless overs before taking the wicket of Upul Tharanga for 2 as India restricted Sri Lanka to 31-1 after 10 overs, its lowest score in the mandatory power play period of the tournament.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, the tournament’s top run scorer, looked well set on 33 before suffering a bizarre dismissal, sweeping a Harbhajan Singh delivery onto his own stumps. That brought Jayawardene and Sangakkara together and the pair put on a run-a-ball 62 before the Sri Lankan captain edged Yuvraj Singh to the wicketkeeper when he had 48.
Much of the punishment was to S. Sreesanth, the bowler recalled as a replacement for Ashish Nehra, injured in the semifinal win over Pakistan.
Jayawardene reached his 50 off 49 balls before losing two further partners as Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Kapugedra, one of four changes to the Sri Lankan team that beat New Zealand in the semifinal, fell in quick succession.
Samaraweera was leg before wicket to Yuvraj following a video referral and Kapugedra chipped Khan straight to Suresh Raina. Nuwan Kulasekara (32) quickly settled though and put on 66 off 49 balls with Jayawardene, who brought up his century with consecutive fours off Khan. He raised his bat in the air and danced down the pitch to celebrate reaching the mark in just 82 balls.
Thisara Perera then replaced Kulasekaa and finished unbeaten on 22 off nine balls, including a six on the final ball.
Muttiah Muralitharan, the world’s leading Test and one day bowler, will take the field for the final match of his career when play resumes. He requires three wickets to tie Australian Glenn McGrath’s all-time World Cup record of 71 wickets.
Sri Lanka holds a 4-2 lead over India in World Cup matches, including a semifinal victory on route to its 1996 triumph. India also lost to Sri Lanka in the only other day/night match to be played in this ground.
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