Sri Lanka storm to 243-run win
Three fluent half-centuries set up Sri Lanka's dominance before a scorching spell from Lasith Malinga made a mess of Bermuda's maiden World Cup appearance at Port-of-Spain. The 243-run walloping was the third-heaviest in one-dayers and it was only thanks to some lower-order resistance that it avoided being an even more gory bloodbath.
Choosing to bat on a flat deck, Sri Lanka's power-packed line-up didn't need to do anything out of the ordinary - Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara combined for a solid 150-run stand before Chamara Silva erected an imposing skyscraper. Bermuda's unheralded batsmen were never going to threaten such a mammoth total, not with Malinga, exotic hairstyle and all, swinging out three wickets in as many overs.
Just like Australia dispatched off the Scots yesterday, Sri Lanka were ruthless in their annihilation. Chaminda Vaas removed Clay Smith in the first over, curving one in and trapping him plumb, before Malinga took over with a devastating touch. Saleem Mukuddem limply hung his bat out to a slightly short delivery, David Hemp committed a similar error, just that the edge was thicker, and Irvine Romaine had no answer to a full-length ball that detonated his pads. Farveez Maharoof and Muttiah Muralitharan mopped up the lower order but Bermuda were deep into the triangle by then. Lionel Cann's 28, including three fours and a six, avoided a slew of infamous records but it did nothing but delay the inevitable.
Sri Lanka's batsmen didn't need to produce any sensational fireworks with the bat but just capitalise on the spate of loose deliveries on offer. None went on to a big score but all combined in an efficient operation built around the Jayawardene-Sangakkara union. The long-hops and wide deliveries were dispatched in style and there was little need for any risk in between. Singles and twos were plenty on offer, especially with the batsman manoeuvring the ball in the gaps, and the rate was always on the up.
Jayawardene crossed fifty for the first time since June 2006 and also brought up his highest score in World Cup matches. Sangakkara achieved a similar feat and thrilled with his punchy drives down the ground. Their dismissals brought some cheer in the Bermuda camp but Silva ensured that the celebrations were short lived. Coming off a brilliant century against India at Vishakapatnam (Sri Lanka's last ODI before the World Cup), he flayed the bowling to all parts. He was especially severe on the spinners, dancing down the track and slashing wide of the cover fielders. He also hustled between the wickets and brought up a half-century in his first World Cup match.
Bermuda seemed to suffer from stage fright on their World Cup debut, turning in as lukewarm a bowling performance as the crowd response at Trinidad. Kevin Hurdle's 14-ball third over was a sign of things to come and all their bowlers, barring medium-pacer Mukuddem, veered towards the erratic. There was sloppiness on the field as well, largely from the portly Dwayne Leverock, who let off Jayawardene on 0 and 51 and was made to pay. Two tremendous dives at the end of the innings was merely a consolation for a forgettable day.
Hurdle promised much in the opening over of the day. Standing almost six-and-a-half feet tall and running in with an easy action, he extracted steepling bounce and jammed Sanath Jayasuriya's left index finger. But he lost his run-up and direction soon after and conceded as many as 15 extras in his nine-over spell. His opening partner, Mukuddem, was far more impressive. Not as quick but far more accurate, he made the batsman play regularly and induced a few tentative prods.
He removed the dangerous Jayasuriya - though that was thanks to the batsman's indiscretion, cutting uppishly to point - and should have had Jayawardene for a first-ball duck, when the portly Dwayne Leverock grassed a regulation chance off an airy flash. Mukuddem was also unlucky not to have had Upul Tharanga's wicket when he was on 28 after Ian Howell turned down a confident shout for lbw. His spell was probably one of the few silver linings in Bermuda's disastrous opening.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo