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Sri Lanka make short work of Bermuda
Prem Panicker | March 15, 2007 23:25 IST
Last Updated: March 16, 2007 01:12 IST
When you are a cricketing minnow -- or associate nation, to be politically correct -- you count victories not in terms of matches won on the big stage; your sights are set lower, your targets are more modest.
Bermuda won a few such victories, today. Keeping Jayasuriya striking at under a run a ball with some shrewd line and length bowling was one. Taking out both openers inside the first 12 overs, and slowing down the Lankan progress to the extent that the free-stroking team made just 108/2 at the end of the power plays was another sizeable victory -- most top teams would reckon they had done well to have the Lankans in that position.
For Lionel Cann to dance down the track, pick a Muthaiah Muralitharan off spinner perfectly, and hoist him deep into the stands at wide long on was a victory. For last man Hurdle, who in the first over of the day made one kick and rapped Jayasuriya a painful blow on the knuckles, to loft Muralitharan right out of the stadium and into the street outside was a story to tell his grandchildren.
It could have been even better, but for a strange anomaly in the Bermudan out-cricket. They took some blinders, but grassed some absolute dollies -- the one that went down at slip, off the first ball that Mahela Jayawardene faced, being the most criminal of the misses; Dwayne Leverock, whose size has generated more media interest than his cricket, being the culprit.
The Sri Lankan captain, totalling 46 runs in his last seven outings, badly needed a confident outing, even against a minnow, ahead of the big games. Thanks to that first ball let off, and another one a little later, Jayawardene got valuable batting time in the middle, and cashed in to the tune of 85/90, finding his touch and timing as the innings progressed.
Kumar Sangakkarra is a canny operator. On a track that was a touch slow after the early swing had petered out, he pulled in his horns, batted as if in a Test, and opted for an extended net. Sri Lanka clearly figured it didn't need to post much of a target - through the middle overs, Jayawardene and Sangakkarra thus concentrated on spending time out there, without showing any marked urgency -- and yet managed a 150-run stand without working up too much of a sweat.
The other Lankan batsman to capitalize on the opportunity was Chamara Silva, who blasted an electric 55 off 45; that innings, and Jayawardene's fluent strokeplay towards the end of his own knock, were mainly instrumental in Lanka piling up 321/6 in the allotted 50 overs.
Come to think of it, that was a little victory, too, for Bermuda: Sri Lanka has a habit of piling it on against the little boys, and the way Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga began, scores in excess of 380 had seemed a formality.
The Bermuda bowlers were clearly overwhelmed by the occasion. Saleem Mukuddem, the medium pacer, seemed to have his wits about him; his peers in the bowling lineup though were too erratic, too overawed, to put up a decent performance. Making matters worse was a fielding performance that was ust about club class - and not a frontline club, either.
There was no question of Bermuda chasing the target; batting through a bulk of the 50 overs would have been a major victory against a rock solid, all-round bowling side. Any such hope, though, came to grief against as Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga and Fervez Maharoof combined to scythe through the sub-standard batting lineup.
Malinga, in fact, was unlucky to miss out on a World Cup hat trick. Having made one climb to find the high edge of David Kemp, Bermuda's sole player with first class credentials, the unorthodox quick lined up skipper Romaine with a very quick yorker length ball that trapped him plumb, and but for umpire Harper finding room for non-existent doubt, should have had another LBW off the very next ball.
No matter -- by the end of the 12th over, six Bermuda batsmen were back in the hut, and the contest, if it ever was that, was over in everything but in name.
If Lanka was looking to take any positives out of its lung-opener, it would be disappointed: the only real plus was Jayawardene getting a 90-ball session in the middle. The bowling was way below the standard the Lankan captain faces in the nets, but there is something about scoring runs in the middle, even against Boycott's grandmother and her friends, that can clear the cobwebs from your mind.
Jayawardene, and the Lankans, will be hoping this innings will signal the turnaround -- the team badly needs its captain to find his touch. Outside of that, we ended the game knowing exactly what we knew before it began: that in cricketing terms, Bermuda is not even on the same planet as the Lankans.
For the statistically inclined, Bermuda was all out 78; Sri Lanka sealed the win by 243 runs. Look forward, now, to some real competition when New Zealand play England tomorrow.
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