Cricket Web report now up:
Farveez Maharoof booked Sri Lanka a place in Group B of the ICC Champions Trophy after his brilliant spell of swing bowling set up an emphatic nine-wicket win over a shell-shocked West Indian side. Taking six for 14 in nine probing overs, Maharoof sent the West Indians spiralling to the second lowest ODI score on Indian soil, and put a severe dent in the holders’ aspirations.
Sanath Jayasuriya and captain Mahela Jayawardene then swept Sri Lanka home, knocking off the required runs in less than 14 overs. They now progress to play New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa, while the West Indians are cast into the supposedly tougher Group A containing Australia, England and home side India.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat on a slow surface at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai – hosting its first ODI in eleven years – Brian Lara chose to bat first, only to see his imposing top three all back in the pavilion after just 19 deliveries. Chaminda Vaas’ early incision accounted for the dangerous pair of Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, while Lasith Malinga snared Shivnarine Chanderpaul leg before.
Lara and Wavell Hinds rebuilt securely, the pair adding 38 together, before Maharoof ripped through the middle order. The medium-pacer, previously thought to be the weak link in a solid Sri Lankan side, took an astonishing six wickets in 37 balls for the total sum of five runs; eventually ending with the outstanding figures of 9-2-14-6, the best in the history of the tournament. With only four batsmen – Gayle, Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Lara – spending any time in the middle in both of the West Indies’ opening fixtures, a rare middle-order collapsed meekly, with several dismissals almost entirely self-induced. Only Hinds, ninth out for 28, showed any real resistance.
Defending just 80, Fidel Edwards give the West Indies a slither of hope when he uprooted Upul Tharanga’s off-stump with the first ball of the innings, but Jayasuriya and Jayawardene made sure of victory with an unbroken stand of 83. Having warmed up in such convincing fashion, Sri Lanka must certainly be among the favourites for the tournament, and armed with such an array of talents are more than capable of going the distance. They kick their campaign proper off in Jaipur on Tuesday against Pakistan, while the broken West Indies unit must rally in time for their opening clash against Australia on Wednesday, again in Mumbai.