Sri Lankans start to hit their stride
Sri Lankans 301 for 7 (Mathews 51, Thirimanne 49, Chandimal 47*, Joseph 4-58) beat Kent 173 (Blake 60, Lakmal 3-16, Perera 3-33, Mendis 3-55) by 128 runs
Angelo Mathews hit fifty and Dinesh Chandimal an unbeaten 47 off 31 balls to set up a hefty thumping of Kent in Sri Lanka's second tour match in England. Having put out a strong side - only Lasith Malinga was rested - Sri Lanka gave a truer measure of themselves than in defeat to Essex on Tuesday, sweeping up a mixture of Kent first-teamers and irregulars for 173 on a cool, clear evening.
Suranga Lakmal immediately applied a tourniquet at the top of the innings, his opening spell of 4-1-10-2 providing both control and penetration. Alex Blake played neatly for his 60, which included reverse-sweeping Ajantha Mendis for four, but Thisara Perera plucked out key wickets during the middle overs and a long tail succumbed quickly. Without the likes of Rob Key, Darren Stevens and Brendan Nash, a Kent target in excess of 300 proved steeper than the Dover cliffs.
A partnership of 84 between Lahiru Thirimanne and Mathews provided the ballast for Sri Lanka, after a sprightly but evanescent performance from the top order. Thirimanne's high front elbow was a feature of his strokeplay, his first and only boundary coming off his 63rd delivery, while Mathews showed greater muscularity in an innings replete with bottom-handed clubs to the rope.
Mathews struck the first sixes of the contest before spooning a full toss to mid-off but Chandimal and Perera skipped along in his footprints during a rapid 71-run stand from 48 balls. Chandimal might have been caught at deep midwicket attempting to go to his half-century from the penultimate delivery of the innings but Fabian Cowdrey had to throw the ball back in as he fell towards the boundary rope.
Robbie Joseph, the one-time England Lions bowler who returned to Kent at the start of the summer, claimed 4 for 58, while James Tredwell also put in the sort of dependable shift he is known for, ahead of his involvement in the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka. He dismissed Thirimanne with one that lured the batsman out to be stumped for 49, though his figures were slightly smudged when Chandimal lofted the fourth and fifth balls of his final over for four and six.
Kent lost Daniel Bell-Drummond and Cowdrey, grandson of Colin, with the score on 17, as they struggled to get going during the Powerplay. Blake's half-century, his third in the format and first since 2010, came at a run-a-ball and a stand of 68 with Sam Billings kept them afloat but, from 148 for 5, Kent lost their last five wickets for 25. Only the combined figures of spinners Mendis and Tillakaratne Dilshan - 3 for 92 from 15 overs - would have given the tourists a moment's pause.
Sri Lanka were beaten in their first warm-up fixture, a soggy, 21-over affair in Chelmsford, but with the sun shining over hop country they found the St Lawrence ground to be a more welcoming venue. Kent's is probably the closest English ground to Colombo (though still 8,000km as the crow flies) and there were several Sri Lanka shirts on display in the crowd, as well as a flag being waved in the breeze on the Old Dover Road grass bank.
The vexed issue of Sri Lanka's junior-senior question will not be solved by one tour match but, after Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene fell for scores between 30 and 35, the contributions from Nos. 5, 6 and 7 will have encouraged Marvan Attapatu, the team's interim coach.
Sangakkara joined up with the Sri Lanka squad on Thursday, having missed the early part of the tour to play in two Championship matches for Durham, and reclaimed the wicketkeeping gloves off Chandimal (before swapping halfway through the innings). Following his 159 at Hove, he looked in good order until playing down the wrong line against Kent left-armer Adam Ball to have his stumps rattled.
After Sangakkara's dismissal, Sri Lanka appeared content to settle in, only for the longueurs to get the better of Jaywardene. Between the end of the 14th over and the beginning of the 36th only three boundaries were struck, before Mathews and Thirimanne, then Chandimal and Perera redoubled their efforts. The rate had dipped below five an over but 129 runs flowed from the last 15 as a team that should be a contender at the 2015 World Cup flashed their credentials.
After Sri Lanka's well-oiled start on a decent pitch, 300 always looked in range. Dilshan could not be much more buccaneering if he batted with a parrot on one shoulder while wearing a tricorne hat. He cut, pulled and drove his way to 35 off 28 balls before Joseph, bowling with decent pace and hitting an awkward length in his first List A game since August 2012, had him caught skying a piratical hack high to third man.
That was Joseph's second wicket, having removed Sri Lanka's other opener, Kusal Perera, with his first delivery, the batsman caught on the crease and fencing to slip. David Griffiths was not able to match Joseph's economy, however, as the tourists reached the end of the ten-over Powerplay on 64 for 2.
Charlie Hartley, Kent's 20-year-old debutant, came on for his first bowl against a pair with more than 25,000 ODI runs between them. Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene dismissed him for boundaries as the over leaked 10 runs but Hartley found better control after switching ends. Jayawardene became the third member of Sri Lanka's illustrious triumvirate to depart in the 30s when he miscued a lofted drive to mid-on to provide Hartley with his first senior wicket.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick