World Cup 2019: Avishka Fernando century propels SL to 338

Avishka Fernando's 103-ball 104 formed the bedrock for Sri Lanka's 338 after Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera had provided a solid start.

Avishka Fernando's 104 helped Sri Lanka post 338 for six batting first.   -  Getty Images

The Sri Lankan fans chanted his name, played local music and waved flags every time he took strike.

Avishka Fernando was in the ‘nervous 90s’. Distancing himself from the noise, the 21-year-old stayed calm and reached his maiden One-Day International century to guide Sri Lanka to 338-6 in its World Cup fixture against the West Indies on Monday at Durham.

With both the teams out of the semifinals race, the league fixture at the Riverside was inconsequential in terms of results, but for Fernando, it turned out to be the biggest moment of his young career.

After showing sparks of brilliance in the side’s last two outings against England and South Africa, he capitalised on a good start to score 104 runs off 103 balls, aided by nine boundaries and a couple of sixes.

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In doing so, he became the third youngest centurion in the World Cup — behind Ireland’s Paul Stirling and Australia’s Ricky Ponting.

The foundation to Fernando’s innings, and to Sri Lanka’s total, was laid by openers Kusal Perera and Dimuth Karunaratne.

The pair put together 93 runs before skipper Karunaratne (32) was caught behind by Shai Hope off a swinging delivery from captain Jason Holder. Perera’s dismissal for 64 soon after created a bit of panic in the Sri Lankan dressing room.

But things settled soon with Fernando stepping up. Partnering Lahiru Thirimanne, the youngster ensured there was no slip-up. With the two making the most of a lacklustre West Indies bowling attack, Sri Lanka crossed the 300-run mark for the first time in this tournament.

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