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August 4, 2009

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Jayawardene slams ton to fire Sri Lanka

MAHELA Jayawardene scored a brilliant hundred to guide Sri Lanka to a series-clinching six-wicket victory in the third one-day international against Pakistan in Dambulla yesterday.

The former Sri Lanka captain, who opened the innings after Sanath Jayasuriya fell sick, scored a sublime 123 as the hosts overhauled Pakistan's 288 for eight with 21 balls to spare.

Jayawardene compiled 202-run partnership for the first wicket with Upul Tharanga, who scored 76.

Victory gave Sri Lanka an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, its first ODI series win against Pakistan on home soil.

"At breakfast I heard that Sanath (Jayasuriya) was sick and I told Sanga (Sangakkara) that I'd love to open," Jayawardene said. "We did not have a proper opener and I thought as a senior player I should step up and take responsibility.

"I just tried to play as straight as possible and looked to be positive. I took some chances against the harder ball but the pitch was excellent I soon got into a groove."

"I don't see opening as a permanent thing for me as we have some quality openers in Dilshan (Tillakaratne), Sanath (Jayasuriya) and Upul (Tharanga)," he added.

Jayawardene's century, an innings that was hampered at the end by painful leg cramps, was the 11th of his career and his first since 2007.

Pakistan hopes were briefly buoyed after the fall of three quick wickets, Sri Lanka sliding from 202 without loss to 212 for three.

However, skipper Kumar Sangakkara finished off the game with an unbeaten 37, adding 56 with Thilina Kandamby (32) for the fourth-wicket.

"What can you say about the batting of Mahela and Upul - it was just amazing," Sangakkara said.

"You cannot ask for more than a double hundred stand when you are chasing 289."

Umar Akmal top-scored with a brisk 66 for Pakistan and his elder brother Kamran Akmal chipped in with 45, sharing a 71-run second-wicket partnership with skipper Younus Khan, who scored 44.


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