Sri Lanka crush Bermuda

Sri Lanka made their mark on the 2007 World Cup early with a thrashing of Bermuda in their first match at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad.

Under overcast skies, Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and elected to bat. Although the pitch was a relative unknown, it looked like it would be a good batting pitch and so it proved to be.

The Sri Lankan innings began uncharacteristically with both Upul Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya cautious early on. The bounce in the pitch caught the opening pair unawares as Jayasuriya was struck on the hand off the fifth ball of Kevin Hurdle’s opening over. Although there were some nervous moments for Sri Lanka as the medical team was called on the field, the injury looked to be minor and play was soon back underway.

However, the Sri Lankans were soon motoring along at better than a run-a-ball, thanks partly to Hurdle’s horror second over. The tall medium pacer lost his run-up and bowled no-ball after no-ball, eventually completing a 14 ball over. From there on in, the Sri Lankans looked at ease on the field with only the occasional ball zipping past the outside edge.

Despite the batsmen not taking many risks, the score rolled along until Saleem Mukuddem managed to entice an airy cut shot from Jayasuriya to have the batsman caught at point for 22. With few runs under his belt in recent matches, the captain Mahela Jayawardene was under pressure at three to get his World Cup underway. Jayawardene had only scored 21 runs in the 2003 World Cup, and it looked as if his 2007 campaign might go in a similar fashion as Mukuddem enticed the outside edge from the batsman only to see him dropped by the lone slip fielder.

Hurdle was soon brought back into the attack and he repaid the faith of his captain by snaring the wicket of Tharanga. Although umpire Daryl Harper looked as if he was going to give the batsman a reprieve, Tharanga walked and was out for 30. With the score at 78-2, Sri Lanka were wobbling but Kumar Sangakkara and Jayawardene were able to steady the ship.

Neither batsmen looked to get right on top of the bowling, treating the game as an opportunity to get into some form. Eschewing all risks, the pair pushed the ball around while taking advantage of the inevitable bad delivery. Jayawardene was first to bring up his half-century, and he had another bit of luck soon after bringing up the milestone as he was dropped by Dwayne Leverock for the second time.

The pair took their stand to 150 when Leverock made amends by getting the wicket of Sangakkara, caught on the boundary for 76. Chamara Silva was send in next, and he made full use of his chance. Jayawardene was gone soon after to a brilliant catch from Hurdle and despite losing his captain not long after coming to the crease, Silva smashed the ball to all parts in his cameo knock. Silva ended the innings unbeaten on 55 as Sri Lanka notched up a considerable total of 321-6.

The Bermudian reply began predictably as Chaminda Vaas opened the bowling. The experienced left-armer brought one back into Clay Smith to trap him plumb in front for a duck. At the other end, the batsmen struggled to come to terms with the fiery pace of Lasith Malinga.

Malinga soon had success, removing Mukuddem to a regulation outside edge for zero. The dismissal of Mukuddem brought Bermuda’s most experienced batsman, David Hemp, to the crease. Although Hemp would have experienced more out-and-out fast bowling through his experience on the County Cricket circuit, he too struggled against Malinga.

Hemp was able to get him away for one screaming boundary through point. However, that was as good as it got for him as Malinga cramped him up for room to get the outside edge straight to Jayawardene at second slip. The very next ball Malinga delivered one of his deadly yorkers to trap the Bermudian captain Irvine Romaine plumb in front. He might have had a hat-trick too, but umpire Harper ruled that the next delivery Janeiro Tucker was slipping down the leg-side.

At 20-4, the Sri Lankans smelled an easy victory. Malinga was removed and Farveez Maharoof brought into the attack – the effect was hardly any different. Maharoof broke through Oliver Pitcher’s defensive prod to break his stumps, and a couple of deliveries later induced an outside edge to remove wicketkeeper Dean Minors.

The score was then 29-6 and Bermuda had yet to contend with the spin of Muttiah Muralitharan. The master spin bowler was brought on in the next over. Although his first over was unsuccessful, Murali struck in his second, bowling Tucker to get his first wicket of the tournament. At 39-7, the Bermudians looked down and out, but Lionel Cann and Delyone Borden attempted to restore some respectability to the scorecard.

The lower-order pair batted sensibly while going for their shots. Cann managed to hit Murali over long-on for six, while Borden held up an end until he chipped a Maharoof slower ball to mid-off. The very next over Hurdle also smashed Murali for a huge six, but Cann was unable to extend his stay in the middle. After pulling Maharoof to the boundary for four, he was gone attempting the same off a wider ball only to be caught behind.

His dismissal brought crowd favourite Dwayne Leverock to the crease. Leverock managed to negotiate the remainder of Maharoof’s over, but was soon trapped in front by Murali to end the Bermudian innings for 78.

The Sri Lankans ended up as victors by a huge margin of 243 runs. Although a win was very much on the cards for Sri Lanka, the clinical nature of the bowling performance and the useful hit-out for some of their key batsmen will inspire confidence in the Sri Lankan camp. Bermuda play India next in what is sure to be another learning experience for the team while Sri Lanka meet Bangladesh in what could turn out to be a thrilling encounter.

Sri Lanka 321-6
Mahela Jayawardene 85, Kumar Sangakkara 76, Chamara Silva 55*
Saleem Mukuddem 2-50, Kevin Hurdle 2-61

Bermuda 78
Lionel Cann 28, David Hemp 14
Farveez Maharoof 4-23, Lasith Malinga 3-10, Muttiah Muralitharan 2-28

Sri Lanka won by 243 runs

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