Colombo, March 1: It seems after their narrow defeat at the hands of the Pakistanis, Sri Lanka were itching to get back to their winning ways. What better manner to accomplish that task than simply steamroll a hapless Kenya?
After a shambolic start to their innings, the Kenyan middle order came to the fore and set course for a total of around 200. But Lankan pace spearhead Lasith Malinga had other plans, truncating their innings to a paltry 143 and finishing with a hat-trick and a haul of 6/38. In the end, reaching the target just seemed a formality to the Lankan batsman who got home with 9 wickets and 188 balls to spare.
Not an unfamiliar trend among minnows teams this World Cup, the Kenyan innings too got off to a horrendous start. The Lankan new-ball pair of Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga were spot on right from the word go, each trapping an opener in front. Kulasekara thus removed Maurice Ouma for 1 and Malinga took care of Seren Waters for 3, leaving the Kenyans reeling at 8/2 in 2.1 overs.
Then Collins Obuya and his brother David, put on a rescue act with a 92 run stand, but in so doing, had reduced the run-rate to a crawl. With the score at 102/2 in 31.3 overs, Malinga struck again to bowl Collins for 52 off a 100 balls. Then Steve Tikolo who is having a woeful time with the bat this World Cup, departed to the medium pace of Angelo Mathews and Kenya were 120/4 in 36.2 overs.
David Obuya was the next to walk back to the pavilion, being undone by a Muttiah Murtali special, for 51 off 106 balls. Kenya were 127/5 at a little over 40 overs. Then Kenyan captain Jimmy Kamade was run out courtsey a direct throw for Silva.
That was the lull before the storm. Lasith Malinga pulled out all the stops to polish off the tail. He trapped Tanmay Mishra in front at the end of the 42nd over and returned in the 44th, to clean up Peter Ongondo and Shem Ngoche, thus getting his hat-trick. Then after a dot ball and five wides, he clean bowled Elijah Otieno to wrap up the Kenyan innings for 142 in 43.4 overs.
In reply, Sri Lanka's innings began on a robust note. Boundaries came freely with Tillakaratne Dilshan getting Odhiambo away for two fours in the fourth over and subjecting Ongondo to similar treatment in the 5th.
The same pattern played out in the 6th over as well, with Ngoche the victim this time around and in the 7th, Upul Tharanga got into the act, smacking Kamade for two more boundaries. Sri Lanka had raced to 72/0 in 8 overs, before Otieno finally got the breakthrough getting Dilshan caught behind for 44 off 30 balls.
That was all the respite the Kenyans got as with captain Kumar Sangakkara at the crease and Tharanga in blazing form, the fours kept coming almost one every over. Sanga picked two runs of Odhiambo to bring up Sri Lanka's 100 in the 14th over and then celebrated with another boundary to round off the over. The last twenty runs or so came off a flurry of boundaries, four of them in an Ngoche over. Then Tharanga struck the winning runs as Lanka romped home in the 19th over.