February 9, 2002

Kenya spin out of control in Matara


Kenya slumped to an innings and 152 run defeat against Sri Lanka A at Uyanawatte Stadium in Matara to give the home team an unassailable two-nil lead in the unofficial three-match Test series.

Replying to Sri Lanka's imposing 574 for six first innings score, the visitors had started the third day with hope of saving the follow on, having grappled their way to 122 for two by the close of play on day two.

But despite centuries of contrasting styles from Ravindu Shah and Steve Tikolo, Kenya lost 16 wickets in the day, as they were bowled out for 220 in the first innings and then 202 once asked to bat again.

Sri Lanka A's trio of spinners caused the greatest problems for the African batsmen, taking 17 of the 18 Kenya wickets to fall.

Upul Chandana, fresh from his brilliant 194 the day before, spun his way through the middle order in the morning to take four for 23 in the first innings, before plucking out a brace in the second.

Off-spinning all-rounder Muthumudalige Pushpakumara finished with five for 125 in the match and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath took five for 93.

Kenyan chances of reaching the 424 run follow on target were dealt an early blow in the morning when Hitesh Modi was caught at bat pad off the seventh ball of the day.

But captain Maurice Odumbe and Shah then recovered, adding 58 runs for the fourth wicket in just 12 overs. It was a reckless run rate that was continued throughout the day, with predictably disastrous consequences.

Odumbe finally poked a catch to Tillakaratne Dilshan soon after the introduction of leg-spinner Upul Chandana. He had scored 28 off 37 balls with three fours.

Martin Suji was dismissed in an identical manner before the key wicket of Shah fell, as the right-hander missed an off-break whilst attempting to work the ball to leg.

Nevertheless, his patient 106 from 204 balls, an innings that included 15 boundaries, was fine effort and he richly deserved to score his first first-class century.

If only his colleagues had shown similar application. The lower order crumbled once again; the last five wickets producing a meager 19 runs.

Kenya's cause was not helped by an hamstring injury to enigmatic all-rounder Thomas Odoyo, an injury considered serious enough for him to not bat and likely to force him out of the third unofficial Test in Dambulla next week.

In the second innings the Kenyan's batted as if they all was lost. They came out all guns blazing with Tikolo leading the way with a rollicking century.

The right-hander tore into the Sri Lanka A bowling after the third ball dismissal of wicket-keeper Kennedy Otieno, who was given out lbw despite a generous stretch forward.

Tikolo rode his luck - he was dropped on 0, 11 and 57 - clubbing his way to 117 from 144 balls, hitting 16 fours and two sixes.

But from the other end there was little support. Shah was caught at point off a top edged sweep, Odumbe was snaffled at silly point, Modi missed a grubber on the back foot and M. Suji guided an off-break into the grateful hands of leg slip.

Peter Ongondo was defiant at the end with three boundaries in his 12 not out, but Pushpakumara sealed the Sri Lankan win with the last two wickets.