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Friday, June 27, 2008

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Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis took a career-best 5-22 to help Sri Lanka overcome a fighting United Arab Emirates by 142 runs in the final Group A match of the Asia Cup at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Thursday.

Mendis triggered a collapse in the UAE batting ranks as the qualifiers lost eight wickets for 41 runs to slump from a threatening 107-2 to be bowled out for 148 in 36.3 overs chasing Sri Lanka's 290-9.

For the UAE left-handed opener Amjad Ali topscored with a brilliant 79-ball 77 but once the Lahore-born batsman fell, wickets tumbled like nine pins with Mendis running through the middle and lower order with his beguiling action.

Amjad hit 13 boundaries and added 70 for the second wicket with Indika Batuwitarachchi who made just 14.

Mendis, playing in only his fifth one-day, had a previous best of 3-39 against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain earlier this year.

Sri Lanka, who also beat Bangladesh by 131 runs on Wednesday, topped Group A and qualified for the next stage of Super Four. Bangladesh, who beat the UAE by 96 runs on Tuesday also qualified for the next phase.

Earlier Sri Lanka rode on half-centuries from Mahela Udawatte and Mahela Jayawardene against a disciplined UAE bowling.

Udawatte hit 67 while skipper Jayawardene made 61 during their 114-run second wicket stand after Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat in the day-night match.

But once the duo left, the UAE bowlers took four wickets in the space of 75 runs before Kaushal Weeraratne (40) and Nuwan Kulasekara (38) added 53 invaluable runs for the eighth wicket to give impetus to the innings.

Pakistan and India also qualified for the Super League. India take on Bangladesh in the first match of the Super League phase on Saturday.

All four teams play each other once in the Super League stage to decide the July 6 finalists.

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