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March 16, 2007
Refusing to be downbeat after an embarrassing 243-run defeat to Sri Lanka, Irvine Romaine, the Bermuda captain, said his side had plenty to gain from the experience of playing on the big stage. This was Bermuda's World Cup debut and Romaine said his men were overawed by the occasion in Trinidad.
Sri Lanka overwhelmed their opponents by piling on a massive 321, boosted by half-centuries to Kumar Sangakkara, the captain Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Silva. Their bowlers inflicted further damage with Lasith Malinga and Farveez Maharoof sharing seven wickets between them to skittle Bermuda for a paltry 78 in 24.4 overs.
"It was a wonderful experience," Romaine told AFP. "Some of the old players were also there. They are disappointed with the result, but they know it is a special day for Bermuda. We were all emotional and it showed in a couple of early overs."
Reflecting on the batting collapse, Romaine said the top order had no answer to Malinga, whose round-arm action and lively pace was something his batsmen were not exposed to. Malinga prised three wickets for ten runs in his five overs, and there was hardly any resistance from the remaining batsmen.
"We did okay in the field, but the frontline batsmen could not handle Malinga," he said. "Tackling that style of bowling was a new experience for all of us. I hope our top order gets some runs in the remaining two matches."
In the other camp, Jayawardene had more than one reason to smile, with a welcome return to form to complement his side's thumping win. His 85 was his highest score in 20 matches.
"I have not been at my best with the bat in the last two months," he said. "It was good for me to spend more time in the middle. I hope I will continue with it in important games. All the other guys around me are also batting well, so it should be exciting."
Jayawardene showered praise on Malinga, who channelled his aggression effectively to rock the opposition. "The last six months have been exciting for us, with Lasith around," he said. "He has given us more attacking options. He showed a lot of aggression but bowled within himself. He bowled in good areas. The wicket suited his bowling and that was the difference. With his action and the pace he generates, he is always asking questions."
Though the contest was hopelessly one-sided, Jayawardene backed Bermuda's participation in the World Cup, citing the experience of his own country back in the inaugural event in 1975. "There should be a proper development and I'm sure the ICC is monitoring the progress of these countries," he said. "The more games they play at this level, the more they will improve. For us, it is always good to have these countries playing in big tournaments. That was how we learnt. Hopefully, they will do the same."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.