January 17, 2001

Sri Lanka A continue to prosper

Radhika Moolraj

Sri Lanka A continued to prosper in their three-day match against Kenya at the Mombassa Sports Club today. Having begun the second day on 274 for five, they compiled 346 for nine before declaring. Then, on a pitch tailor made for their spinners, they restricted the Kenyans to 191 for nine at the close.

The second day was dominated by an outstanding all round performance by the Sri Lankan skipper, Kumar Dharmasena, and by an innings true quality from Steve Tikolo, Kenyan's star batsmen.

Dharmasena, who has just been recalled into the squad for New Zealand, held the Sri Lankan middle order together in the morning with an accomplished 68, that included shots all round the wicket. He was partnered by Pasan Wanasinghe, who scored 46 runs in an important seventh wicket stand.

The morning session was closely fought with some fine fielding by the Kenyans and batting by the Sri Lanka. Eventually Kenya opted to take the new ball in an effort to separate Dharmasena and Wanasinghe. However, the pitch had become grimly slow in pace and there was scant assistance for the quicker bowlers.

Although having conceded an imposing first innings total, the Kenyans will doubtless be pleased by the performance of their nineteen-year-old leg spinner. Collins Otieno. He impressed throughout the innings with his high natural action. He bowled an immaculate line and length and troubled all the Sri Lankan batsmen.

Kennedy Otieno
Kennedy Otieno
Photo CricInfo

When Dharmasena was finally dismissed, caught behind by Kennedy Otieno off Tony Suji, the tourists decided to declare twenty minutes before lunch. The Kenyans were soon in trouble as Ravindra Puspakumara trapped Kennedy Otieno LBW with the second ball of the opening over.

Throughout the afternoon the Sri Lankans were keen in the field and bowled tightly. However, they will have rued dropping Steve Tikolo at second slip. Kenya's premier batsmen gratefully accepted his good fortune and went on to score 85 runs.

The charismatic Thomas Odoyo joined Tikolo and the pair took the attack to the Sri Lankan bowlers in an exciting passage of play. After his scratchy start, Tikolo Grew in confidence. Favouring the off side, he drove and cut the Sri Lankan bowlers with confidence.

However, just when the Kenyans had dragged themselves into a good position, they were undone by the spin of Kumar Dharmasena. Celebrating his selectionon back into the national squad - which had only been discovered during the luncheon interval - he extracted significant turn from the pitch and the Kenyan batsmen with his straighter delivery. The lower order crumbled meekly and Kumar Dharmasena finished the day with five wickets.

Sri Lanka A will now be looking to wrap up the Kenyan first innings quickly, score some quick runs in the morning, and then try to bowl out the home side in the afternoon. It will not be easy on a pitch so slow in pace.