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Pradeep leads the way as Sri Lanka break win-less streak

Sri Lanka 322 for 8 (Avishka 74, Karunaratne 77, Kusal Mendis 66, Wheal 3-49) beat Scotland 199 (Cross 55, Munsey 61, Pradeep 4-34)

Dimuth Karunaratne scored his maiden ODI fifty in just his second ODI, back in 2011 against Scotland at the Grange. After eight years, he finally crossed 50 for the second time in his career, against the same opponent on the same ground in a bit of handy deja vu for Sri Lanka’s new ODI captain to propel them to a 35-run win on the DLS method. The result broke Sri Lanka’s eight-match ODI losing streak.

Making the most of a pair of let offs, Karunaratne top-scored with 77 after being sent in. It was one of three half-centuries in the innings for Sri Lanka as his opening partner Avishka Fernando struck his maiden ODI fifty. Both men were spilled during Brad Wheal‘s opening spell, Karunaratne at first slip by George Munsey on 13 in the seventh over and Avishka on 22 at mid-off by Alasdair Evans in the ninth, as Scotland paid for some sloppy fielding to see the pair construct a 123-run opening stand.

Karunaratne received a third life in the 21st over as well on 36 when Calum MacLeod couldn’t hang on to a sharp chance at midwicket off the bowling of left-arm spinner Mark Watt. It took the intervention of offspinning allrounder Michael Leask to break the stand at 123, striking with his first ball after being introduced in the 23rd to induce a loose flick to Munsey at deep square leg by Avishka for 74.

Karunaratne continued to drive Sri Lanka forward, raising his 50 off 65 balls with a reverse paddle sweep for four off Watt in the 26th. After 33 overs, he was on 77 and constructing another ominous stand with Kusal Mendis, as Sri Lanka looked certain to sprint past 300 with their score on 203 for 1.

But the reintroduction of Wheal in the 34th over put the brakes on their innings. Karunaratne fell, skying a pull to substitute fielder Gavin Main at mid-on. The decision to promote Thisara Perera to No. 4 with a terrific platform and a free license to swing big backfired spectacularly, as a cross-batted swipe at a back of a length ball angled across by Wheal resulted in an edge behind for a golden duck.

Tom Sole made it 3 for 6 in the space of 20 balls when Angelo Mathews charged the offspinner and heaved a catch to Leask at long-on to make it 210 for 4. Kusal focused on stabilising the innings through the 40th over before getting back into attack mode, heaving a six over long-on in an 11-run over. He eventually made 66 and Sri Lanka added 99 off their last 10, including 35 off their last 12 balls, to compensate for the earlier stumble. Wheal took another at the death to end with 3 for 49 as Scotland’s star bowler on the day.

Scotland had made 325 on this ground 10 days earlier against Afghanistan, which wound up being below par in a match decided by DLS. Storm clouds were forecast to be on the horizon for the late afternoon, which influenced Scotland’s decision to bowl first at the toss, and sure enough DLS came into play exactly two hours into their chase.

The hosts had a flawless Powerplay, reaching 50 for 0 after nine overs behind a sizzling start from captain Kyle Coetzer. He struck four boundaries in the space of 11 balls across the fifth and sixth overs off Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep. But a maiden from Thisara in the 10th over built up pressure leading to his wicket, bounced out by Pradeep as Lahiru Thirmanne ran in at deep square leg for a sharp sliding catch.

Pradeep struck again in the 13th over with the ball of the day, getting a fullish length one to jag back to pierce Calum MacLeod’s bat-pad gap to clip the leg stump bail for 1. In the absence of the injured Richie Berrington, who missed this match after breaking a bone in his left pinky during a domestic 50-over match last week, Craig Wallace was promoted to No. 4 and made 18 before Isuru Udana’s around the wicket angle of attack finally dislodged him with one that straightened for an edge behind to make it 95 for 3 in 21.

Munsey started to counter-attack from the start of his arrival at No. 5, sweeping Dhananjaya de Silva for four to get off the mark before a pair of reverse sweeps produced two more boundaries. Matthew Cross continued to graft at the other end, reaching his half-century off 64 balls with a pull behind square for his fourth boundary to end the 26th over.

But rain had been falling steadily for the previous five overs and only six more balls were bowled before umpires David McLean and Gregory Brathwaite decided it was too thick to continue. After 90 minutes, the skies cleared enough for a restart with Scotland set a fresh target of 235, needing 103 off seven overs.

Munsey thrilled the remaining crowd with a stunning assault on Thisara in the 28th, hitting the first ball after the restart over square leg for six followed by two more fours in the over. He brought up a 37-ball fifty with another towering six. But the chase soon ran out of gas. Cross drove Lakmal to long-off for 55 before Munsey was yorked by Pradeep for 61 to snuff out any realistic hope for Scotland of an upset. Pradeep bowled Safyaan Sharif next ball to go on a hat-trick, ending with 4 for 33 and Scotland quickly subsided thereafter as a pair of run outs wiped out the tail.

Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1185008.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

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