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The Electronic Telegraph Kenya v Sri Lanka, Group A
Charles Randall - 30 May 1999

Deposed Sri Lankans bid gloomy farewell

Sri Lanka (275-8) bt Kenya (230-6) by 45 runs

Sri Lanka avoided the unthinkable, a Group A defeat against Kenya, in the Northlands Road gloom yesterday, but one felt that they would rather have been elsewhere.

Misty rain, greasy grass, a glowing street light, dank trees, the aroma of chips, abandoned seats, distant lightning the carnival of cricket never made town this time.

The soaked fallen champions had to grit their teeth and remain in the field before they could bring down the curtain on a bitterly disappointing World Cup campaign.

The Kenyans lost wickets early and opted for simple respectability through the last 30 overs or so. Maurice Odumbe and Alpesh Vadher broke the World Cup sixthwicket record with their 161 together, but the match finished in anticlimax.

For Sri Lanka, there was no hiding the failure of their three faded batting cavaliers: Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga, the captain. They have had to carry the blame during the tournament.

The fact that they faced some very eager bowling attacks demonstrated how far Sri Lanka's reputation has advanced since their own underdog days of the Seventies and Eighties.

Yesterday Jayasuriya was beaten by Thomas Odoyo, who seamed one into him, though not very sharply. The lefthander's 39 raised his aggregate to 82 in five innings for an average of 16.4.

De Silva clipped a catch to square leg on 10; at the start of the tournament few of his many admirers would have imagined that he would end up with a mere 73 runs at an average of 14.6. Ranatunga helped his side accelerate with fifty off 62 balls, improving his total to a barely respectable 134.

The overcast day became chilly enough for David Orchard, the South African umpire, to hold up play while he pulled on a sweater, and Muttiah Muralitharan ripped out enormous offbreaks wearing a cap.

Mahela Jayawardene, bowling his mediumpaced seamers, once shot the ball out directly behind him, drawing an ironic cheer from spectators, but by then about half the crowd had streamed out of the ground after rain delayed the start of the Kenya innings by 1hr 40min.

Kenya had to bowl most of their overs with a wet ball for the second time in the tournament their game against England at Canterbury being the other occasion and Sri Lanka would surely not have reached such a high total in the dry.

Control of the ball became difficult at a time when Sri Lanka lost four wickets in three overs. Then Jayawardene's 45 not out off 32 balls and a flurry of boundaries from the excellent Chaminda Vaas added 64 in seven overs for the eighth wicket, which effectively pushed Kenya out of the picture.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk