Sri Lanka 355 for 6 (Mendis 78, Samarawickrama 73, Naseer 2-44) beat UAE 180 (Waseem 39, Aravind 39, Hasaranga 6-24) by 175 runs
Bulawayo: Sri Lanka made a strong start to the tournament as they outclassed UAE in Bulawayo on Monday.
The top order all made half-centuries to set up a big Sri Lanka total of 355/6, with some late fireworks from Charith Asalanka and Wanindu Hasaranga adding gloss to the biggest first innings score of the tournament so far.
And the quality of Sri Lanka’s spinners did the damage in the second innings, with Hasaranga removing three of the UAE’s top five and going on to take six wickets in a convincing win.
UAE won the toss and elected to bowl in Bulawayo, with the match the first men's ODI between the teams in almost 15 years.
The Emiratis left out Junaid Siddique, opting for Zahoor Khan, Muhammad Jawadullah and the extra pace option of revelation Ali Naseer. Sri Lanka on the other side did not serve up any surprises, although Dushmantha Chameera was missing with a pectoral issue. The team welcomed Dimuth Karunaratne back into the ODI batting line-up.
Put in to bat first, the returning Karunaratne showed why Sri Lanka decided to bring him back into the ODI setup after a two-year gap ahead of the Qualifier. In conditions that had a bit of movement on offer for the pacers, Karunaratne's solid technique came in handy as he gathered boundaries – a total of six in the Powerplay – at ease.
At the other end Pathum Nissanka struggled to get runs flowing from his bat. However, the initial grind paid off after Nissanka struck back-to-back boundaries off Muhammad Jawadullah in the fifth over to get his innings going.
The openers kept the scoreboard ticking and, in the process, Karunaratne brought up his third consecutive fifty but fell in the very next over. The opening pair added 95 runs for the first wicket, successfully negotiating that early period where conditions most favour the bowlers.
Joining hands with Kusal Mendis to build on the foundation, Nissanka too reached the 50-run landmark as Sri Lanka were coasting at 133/1 at the halfway stage of their innings.
Scoring accelerated dramatically through the second half of the innings.
Mendis hit ten fours in his classy 63-ball 78, and his 105-run partnership with Sadeera Samarawickrama fired Sri Lanka towards a big target.
Mendis holed out to the substitute fielder off Ali Naseer, and Samarawickrama was run out on 73 from 64 balls to give UAE hope of restricting the scoring in the final six overs.
But Asalanka had other ideas, unleashing boundary after boundary in a brilliant display of finishing as he struck 48* off just 23 balls. And Wanindu Hasaranga (23* off 12) hit three boundaries in the final over to help post a score of 355/6 that will test UAE to the limit.
The young Naseer justified his pick with standout figures of 2/44 off ten overs – comfortably the best on show.
UAE’s reply got off to a steady start until Lahiru Kumara pulled off a smart caught and bowled to remove open Rohan Mustafa for 12.
But the brilliance of Hasaranga was on full show as he picked up three wickets in the space of two overs, removing Muhammad Waseem (39), Basil Hameed (0) and Asif Khan (8) to put Sri Lanka in complete control.
Some tidy contributions ensured it was a respectable effort with the bat from UAE, with Vriitya Aravind matching his captain’s top score of 39 before being trapped lbw by Dhananjaya de Silva.
And a decent partnership between Rameez Shahzad (26) and Naseer (34) made Sri Lanka wait for the win.
But wickets tumbled once the partnership was broken.
Maheesh Theekshana got in on the action to clean up Naseer, and the outstanding Hasaranga finished the job with two wickets in two balls as UAE were bowled out for 180 in 39 overs.
Hasaranga finished with exceptional figures of 6/24 in eight overs as the tournament favourites started their campaign in style.