Kenya were not probably prepared for what came their way today at the M A Chidambaram stadium in Chennai in their opening Group A match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 against New Zealand. Their performance showed the gap between the regular ICC members and the Associate teams and would have lent credence to ICC Chief Haroon Lorgat’s assertion that Associate teams should not be a part of the World Cup in 2015.
Jimmy Kamande, the Kenyan captain, won the toss this morning and elected to bat first on a pitch that was expected to play slower in the afternoon. Their openers – Alex Obanda and Seren Waters began as if they were playing a test match. It was true that the Kiwis bowled accurately but there was no effort from these two to break the shackles.
The batsmen were undone by some good bowling by the Kiwi seamers – Tim Southee, Hamish Bennett and Jacob Oram. Bennett was particularly impressive getting four wickets giving away only 16 runs. He landed the balls on a full length attacking the stumps which the Kenyan batsmen were unable to cope with. Tim Southee and Jacob Oram picked three wickets each as Kenya got bowled out for only 69 in 23.5 overs.
The Kenyan bowling also said a sorry tale – they bowled too short and wide enabling the Kiwi batsmen to go through with their shots comfortably. Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum – the Kiwi openers – did not waste any time in chasing down the target – they got to it in only 8 overs thereby ensuring a very big net run rate which could come in handy later on in the tournament.
The Canadians also did not do much for the Associates’ cause. They capitulated against an incisive Sri Lankan bowling attack in their Group A match at the picturesque Hambantota. Thisara Perera was the most impressive bowler on view. He took the wicket of John Davison off his very first ball in a World Cup and followed that up with two more wickets. He proved last year that his bowling is lethal and should now edge out Mathews at No. 7 in the remaining games for Sri Lanka.
The only resistance for Canada came from Rizwan Cheema who made every effort to take the bowling apart. There were a couple of sixes from him that pushed the team past the 100 run mark. But the rest of the batting looked pedestrian and they were never really in the chase after the Davison wicket.
Kumar Sangakkara had earlier won the toss and had no hesitation in deciding to bat. Lasith Malinga was left out thereby giving a chance to both Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera to prove their worth. Sri Lanka got off to a slow start against some disciplined bowling by Canada. Their bowlers did not give much width to the batsmen and Dilshan and Tharanga had to work for their runs. Eventually, Tharanga was run out in the 12th over after seeing Dilshan not responding to his call for a single in a dismissal that was reminiscent of Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal yesterday.
Sangakkara was dropped at short third man by the substitute teenager Nitish Kumar off the bowling of Rizwan Cheema in the 18th over. This turned out to be a very costly lapse for Canada as he and Mahela Jayawardene rebuilt the innings after being in some trouble at 88/2 in the 20th over. The pair was brought together when Dilshan, immediately after reaching his fifty, threw his wicket away holing out to deep point off Cheema.
The pair initially nudged the balls around for ones and twos before opening up against an inexperienced attack. Jayawardene’s runs mostly came on the leg side as he swept efficiently against the spinners. Sangakkara, after the initial edginess, started finding his groove and the partnership grew to threatening proportions. The captain had not scored an ODI hundred for close to three years and was looking good to get it this time but returned an airy drive straight to bowler John Davison.
Jayawardene registered the fastest 100 by a Sri Lankan in a World Cup soon after. His hundred came off only 80 balls. Immediately he swept to short fine leg where Balaji Rao made no mistake. Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera and Thilan Samaraweera then swung their bats at everything possible and got Sri Lanka to 332/7 in 50 overs which turned out to be far beyond Canada’s reach tonight.