Sri Lanka overwhelm Kenya
It was minnow bashing at its best as Sri Lanka, led by Sanath Jayasuriya, pulverized Kenya, beating them by 172 runs at the Wanderers. Jayasuriya's whirlwind 88 and Jehan Mubarak's late fireworks lifted Sri Lanka to a record team score of 260 for 6, a target way out of reach for the opposition as Kenya managed just 88.
Records tumbled as the victory margin of 172 set the record for the biggest ever in Twenty20 internationals. Mubarak and Mahela Jayawardene - who made 65 - came within striking distance of recording the fastest fifties and the score of 260 foretold the result of the match even before the Kenya openers took guard.
Steve Tikolo's decision to insert the opposition proved costly as Sri Lanka began with the intent of scoring over 200. The openers - Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga, flayed at just about everything in the opening overs. Tharanga was the only one to miss out, owing to a lapse in concentration as he played across the line to a Thomas Odoyo delivery which hit the middle stump. While Odoyo bowled with control in his opening spell, the support bowlers suffered.
Jayasuriya batted with characteristic freedom, shuffling across his stumps and disturbing the bowler's rhythm at the delivery stride. Despite a few hits and misses early in the innings, it didn't take long for him to find the meat of the bat. He set the ball rolling with the first six of the match, pulling a good length delivery drifting in over square leg and through his innings, he kept the fielders in the arc between square leg and long-leg on their toes.
Sangakkara's brief knock of 30 was characterised by technically correct strokes along the ground and his stand of 75 with Jayasuriya ensured that a record score was on the cards. Wicketkeeper Maurice Ouma stood up to the stumps to curb the batsmen from using their feet but it was to no avail. Jayasuriya unfurled the shot of the match, a short-arm jab across the line off Nehemiah Odhiambo which just landed over the square-leg rope.
Sangakkara fell sweeping to Jimmy Kamande and the passage of play following his dismissal was forgettable at best for the Kenyans. Jayawardene announced his arrival with a slog-sweep six and batting never looked easier as swept and scooped while staying rooted to the crease.
The carnage played on the minds of the fielders and a series of comical errors in the field followed. Fielders at the deep midwicket region struggled to time their jumps and a collision between Lameck Onyango and Odoyo gave Jayawardene a life as the catch was spilled.
Jayawardene fell trying to sweep Jimmy Kamande and that brought Mubarak to the middle. Mubarak took to Onyango, carting three consecutive sixes and then a four over deep extra cover and the over was worth a whopping 29. He fell short of beating Mohammad Ashraful's record for the fastest fifty but that record hardly mattered as the target seemed unassailable.
The Kenyans showed no semblance of a fight as half the side was back in the pavilion with the score on 50. Chaminda Vaas demonstrated the right line and length to bowl on the pitch and bagged the first two wickets with his nagging line at the stumps.
Tanmay Mishra broke the shackles with a thundering six over long-on against the run of play. However, boundaries were few and far between and at the end of the 10th over, Kenya struggled to push the run-rate up to six an over, let alone match Sri Lanka's.
Lasith Malinga, brought in as the second change bowler, prised out a couple of wickets. Captain Steve Tikolo failed to inspire his side as he was caught in the slips for four while Collins Obuya fell to a tame loft, giving Malinga one of the easier return catches.
Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Gayan Wijekoon took a wicket each as the Kenyans struggled to get close to 100. The innings was wrapped up after the fall of the ninth wicket as Odoyo was unfit to bat owing to the collision earlier on.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo