Born: 26 May 1977, Colombo
Major Teams: Sri Lanka
Batting Style: Left Hand Bat
Avishka Gunawardene, the 23 year old buccaneer from Colombo, tore apart an
inexperienced Windies attack to record his first ever ODI century in Sri
Lanka's opening fixture of the ICC KnockOut in Nairobi. After the Lankans
were put in to bat, the burly opener put the issue beyond reach of the
brittle Windies batting with a powerfully struck 132 that was the backbone
of a formidable total of 287. The left handed Gunawardene who only returned
to the Sri Lankan one-day side in July this year after a one year absence
struck 19 spanking boundaries in his 146 ball innings.
Sri Lanka were in early discomfort at 10/2 in the fifth over before
Gunawardene and Mahela Jayawardene stoked a fine rally adding 160 runs at
frenetic pace in less than 28 overs. Undaunted by the loss of Jayawardene
and Kumar Sangakkara in quick succession, the opening bat continued to fire
away in the company of Russell Arnold, the pair realising 73 in ten and a
half overs of uninhibited hitting. The West Indies fielding wilted under
the onslaught and Gunawardene was the prime beneficiary of their largesse.
His first fifty arrived off 66 balls while the second one was even quicker,
coming from only 59 deliveries.
Very strong square of the wicket on the off side, Gunawardene repeatedly
got the ball away in the arc from backward point to cover point, with
flowing square drives through the infield as well as fierce slashes over
it. When he finally fell after a 200 minute vigil in the penultimate over,
bowled round his legs as he tried to force Nixon McLean away on the leg
side, Gunawardene's effort had virtually shut out the West Indies from the
contest, the final margin of victory being 108 runs.