February 6, 2002

Kenya hopeful of striking back against Sri Lanka A


The scene of the three match unofficial Test series between Sri Lanka A and Kenya now moves to the coastal town of Matara where the visitors will be striving hard to win the second four-day match and keep their chances of winning the series alive. But the home team, meanwhile, will be looking forward to executing the knock out blow, to seal the series at the Uyanwatta Cricket Stadium, Matara.

Batting made all the difference between the two sides in the first unofficial Test Match in Colombo. While most of the frontline Sri Lankan batsmen notched up half centuries, the Kenyan camp failed to provide the goods with big names like Steve Tikolo and Maurice Odumbe failing with the bat.

"Our batting failed in the match in Colombo. Myself, Steve (Tikolo) and the other front line batsmen really didn't get going," admits Kenyan skipper Maurice Odumbe.

He continues," It's even disappointing when you analyse the way we've been getting out. We've been getting out going for our shots,"

However Odumbe feels that his side can bounce back, "We can pickourselves up. We know what we are doing wrong. We are going for too many shots very early in the innings. So we got to cut down on our shots and got to occupy the crease and bat on,"

"Occupying the crease," is the answer to square the series Odumbe feels. The African nation seems to be ill at ease with the four-day game being more used to playing one-day games. But this tour is to learn and with no question on their ability the visitors might spring up a surprise by doing the essentials right.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka A coach Roshan Mahanama commended his side for a good performance with the bat in Colombo, but expects them to start afresh tomorrow.

"When the top five make runs it's a good sign and that eases the burden on the bowlers, but on the other hand I told the boys that one of them should have gone on and made a big hundred which they didn't do. So here in Matara they've got an opportunity," says Mahanama.

This is the first real challenge that has come Mahanama's way from the time that he took on the post of coach cum manager of the Sri Lanka A team in last September. He believes in the young guns that have been entrusted to him and expects a series win here from them.

"In Colombo the boys bounced back after a bad start on the first day to win the match against odds like rain and if they continue the good form we can win the series here," believes Mahanama.

Both the sides are to decide on the final eleven on the morning of the match. However it's felt that the Kenyans will play 25-year-old medium paceman Peter Ochieng instead of fellow paceman Lameck Onyango who had a relatively bad game in Colombo.

The Sri Lankans have dropped Kaushalya Weeraratne from the side that played in the Colombo match and have brought in Pulasti Gunaratne.

The Uyanwatta Stadium pitch looks a good batting track with a bit of grass that should help the seamers early on.

But if the grass on the track is further pruned on the final day morning it looks as if Sri Lanka will go with a three men spin attack with Rangana Herath coming in to support skipper Upul Chandana and Mutumudalige Pushpakumara.

The teams

Kenya (from):

Maurice Odumbe (capt), Steve Tikolo, Ravindu Shah, Kennedy Otieno, Hitesh Modi, Thomas Odoyo, Martin Suji, Otieno Ondik, Lameck Onyango, Sorongo Ababu, Brijal Patel, David Obuya, Joseph Angara, Peter Ogondo,Collins Obuya, Muhammed Sheikh.

Sri Lanka A (from):

Avishka Gunawardene, Ian Daniel, Michal Vandort, Chamara Silva, T.M. Dilshan, Upul Chandana, Prasanna Jayawardene, Muttumudalige Pushpakumara, Prabath Nissanka, Ruchira Perera, Rangana Herath, Upeka Fernando, Gayan Wijekoon, Pulasti Gunaratne.