Wayamba fall by the wayside
The back of the Wayamba Elevens' playing shirts reveal that they are sponsored by "Musli Power Extra", a company advertising itself as a purveyor of the "complete solution for sexual problems". Its products will, ahem, "show you the healthy way to heavenly moments".
Suffice to say, on a family website, the Elevens could have done with a dose of their own medicine in their match against the Chennai Super Kings. They followed their flaccid bowling with batting that could most kindly be described as having a nice personality - bedfellows as strange as this do not a strong marriage make.
The bare bones of it was that the Sri Lankan bowlers were smashed for 200 runs. Then their batsmen sank without trace for 103 in 17.1 overs. To his credit, their captain Jehan Mubarak didn't try to hide the truth. "When we were bowling, four overs went for more than 20 runs each," he said. "That's more than 80 runs, and that really took the game away from us. When you're starting off having to chase runs so quickly, it's really difficult."
Mubarak also wasn't buying the excuse that his team were always going to struggle against the bigger guns wielded by an IPL outfit. "The IPL teams will have a little bit more depth in their batting, but we've won games without myself or (Mahela) Jayawardene doing well," he said. "We simply self-destructed with the bat today."
The match was essentially decided in a second-wicket stand of 137 between Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina. By the time they were done, in the 18th over, Wayamba pretty much were, too.
"I wanted to make sure we rotated the strike, and that we hit the loose ball for four," said Raina, who scored a commanding 87. "When you bat at number three it gives you time to build an innings. When you bat at number seven for India, it's very difficult to score a 50 or a century."
Did the fact that the Super Kings were IPL champions, and thus seen as the standard bearers of much that is good about Twenty20 cricket, spur them on to greater heights? Raina nodded readily: "It's exciting to play against good teams, and it's important to play like champions."
In times like this, it may help Sri Lankans to be able to turn to the old and the faithful. They should be pleased to know that Muttiah Muralitharan, for it was he, was greeted with wild enthusiasm beyond every boundary he visited, the cheers continuing long after he presented his back - with the number 800 bulging incongruously - to the crowd.
For a while there, as Wayamba's wickets refused to stay upright, it looked like the legend was going to be denied a bowl. But, in the 10th over with the scoreboard blushing on 53 for six, Muralitharan wobbled into his familiar waddle. With the last ball of his first over, he dropped a difficult catch that would have accounted for Isuru Udana. But he made up for that in the 13th, when he launched himself to his right at backward point to remove Rangana Herath. Well done, young man!
As long as the twinkle remains in Murali's eye, cricket will not be short of admirers.
But on Wednesday night it was all over too quickly and too clinically. The earth remained unmoved.
Telford Vice is a freelance cricket writer in South Africa