Sri Lanka’s pace spearhead Lasith Malinga finally played his first game of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 against Kenya at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo yesterday. What an impact he had on the match! Sri Lanka posted a very easy win and went on top of group A by virtue of having a better net run rate.
Jimmy Kamande, the Kenyan captain, won the toss and decided to bat on a traditionally good batting wicket. Nuwan Kulasekara along with Malinga shared the new ball for Sri Lanka. With only his second delivery, Kulasekara struck by having Maurice Ouma trapped in front of the stumps. Malinga joined the party in the next over when Seren Waters lost his balance trying to evade a yorker but the ball had already hit his shoes which meant he too was plumb in front.
The Obuya brothers started a revival playing and missing at some deliveries as they kept the scoreboard moving. The pair managed to add 94 runs for the third wicket and at 102/2 in the 32nd over, the Kenyans were on course to bat 50 overs, something they did not do in the first two matches. Malinga came back for another spell and immediately shattered the defences of Collins Obuya with a yorker. Steve Tikolo’s poor form continued as Angelo Mathews had him play a ball airily to point where Dilshan took a good catch.
The obdurate David Obuya was the next to be dismissed as he attempted a slog sweep against Muralitharan only to find the fielder at deep midwicket. Malinga was brought back for another spell and Jimmy Kamande was run out attempting a single that just was not there to be taken. In the last ball of the same over, he had Tanmay Mishra leg before wicket with another of his searing yorkers. With the first two deliveries of his next over, he prised out Peter Ongondo and Shem Ngoche with absolutely unplayable yorkers that made their way past the batsmen’s defences.
Malinga had a hat-trick now, his second in World Cups following his sensational four wickets in four balls against South Africa four years ago. Malinga added another wicket two balls later to uproot the leg stump of Elijah Otieno. Figures of 6/38 showed how much he was missed against Pakistan. Kenya had lost their last eight wickets for just 40 runs to be bowled out for 142 in 43.4 overs.
Dilshan and Upul Tharanga had an eye on the net run rate when they began the chase. The pair put on 72 runs in just 8 overs before Dilshan was dismissed. Sri Lanka rightly took the batting Powerplay in the 16th over and the match was finished in the 19th over as Tharanga hit the winning runs.
Sri Lanka will be pleased with their performance, especially the form that Malinga is in. They will be buoyed to take on Australia in what should be a cracker of a contest this weekend. Kenya promised a lot in that stubborn stand between the Obuya brothers but had no clue against Malinga. With their third successive defeat, their World Cup is all but over. A key statistic underlines Kenya’s batting woes – they have batted only 76.4 overs in three matches out of a maximum 150 – a conversion rate of just above 50%. This is something they would like to correct besides reinstating their pride in their remaining three matches.