October 4, 2000

Sri Lankan fight back gathers pace

Aviska Gunawardena and Mahela Jayawardena steadied a wobbly Sri Lankan start against the West Indian new ball with a confident third-wicket partnership in the second preliminary round match in the ICC KnockOut 2000 tournament at the Nairobi Gymkhana on Wednesday.

Mervyn Dillon snapped up two wickets in the fifth over of the innings after Sri Lanka had been asked to bat on another fast, bouncy pitch, but the third-wicket pair calmed things down and began to attack the bowling once the opening pair were rested. After 25 overs, Sri Lanka were 119 for two with Gunawardena on 52 and Jayawardena on 54.

Nixon McLean might have claimed the wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya and Gunawardena off edges (Campbell spilled a straightforward head-high catch at second slip off Jayasuriya) before Dillon struck with the first and sixth balls of his third over.

Jayasuriya was caught at the wicket off the outside edge as he pushed forward for 2 and Attapattu was bowled for the same score as a delivery reared at him, struck the back elbow and bounced down onto the off stump. After five overs, Sri Lanka were in trouble at 10 for two.

The new ball pair were taken off after 11 overs and Gunawardena and Mahela Jayawardena promptly went after debutante Kerry Jeremy, taking 24 off his first two overs for the full West Indian team as the 50 partnership came up off 54 balls. At the end of the first 15 overs, Sri Lanka had recovered to 67 for two.

Marlon Samuels, another to make his one-day debut, replaced Jeremy, but the Sri Lankans continued to set the pace and a scored in excess of 250 seemed likely.

Jayawardena was first to his 50 off 53 a little luckily as he top edged a lap off legspinner Mahendra Nagamootoo, but the ball looped over the `keeper's head and landed harmless wide of slip.

Gunawardena reached his 50 off 66 balls in the next over.