Preview: Sri Lanka look to hit winning ways against Kenya

Sri Lanka seek a big win over Kenya to get their confidence back after the narrow loss to Pakistan in their second game

By Jamie Alter

Colombo: Mar 1, 2011

This one should provide the balm Sri Lanka need after Saturday s hurting. Fresh from thrashing Canada in their opening fixture, Sri Lanka stumbled against Pakistan, losing by 11 runs. They now need to bounce back and beat Kenya handsomely to get their net run rate back up, as well as their confidence. It shouldn t be a tough task.

Sri Lanka were instrumental in Kenya s march to the semi-finals at the 2003 World Cup, with their famous defeat to the African nation going miles in their promotion. This time around the gulf between the two sides is enormous. Kenya have been the weakest of the Associate nations and have little going for them.

They were on the wrong end of a 10-wicket thrashing by New Zealand before going down to Pakistan by 205 runs in their second game. More butchery can be expected when they face a formidable Sri Lanka team on Tuesday in Colombo.

With vastly experienced Steve Tikolo woefully out of form, and at the end of his career, their batting relies on Maurice Ouma and Collins Obuya, with Seren Waters remaining a talent spoken highly of but short on delivering the goods. Their bowling, meanwhile, lacks depth and bite and against a hungry batting attack, there s all the reason to expect Kenya s bowlers to provide cannon fodder.

Kumar Sangakkara has said that the prime concern is the top-order, but more pertinent is how he gets Lasith Malinga into the XI. Sangakkara has a selection issue on his hands, of whether to go in with two spinners or an extra seamer.

The Muttiah Muralitharan-Ajantha Mendis axis was effective against Pakistan, but its high time Malinga got a game. That would mean dropping either Thisara Perera, who has gotten wickets with the new ball but who s batting hasn t clicked, or Nuwan Kulasekara, the team s undoubted spearhead. The other personnel change could be Chamara Kapugedera for Thilan Samaraweera.

Teams

Sri Lanka (probable): Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (c and wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera/Chamara Kapugedera, Chamara Silva, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera/Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Muttiah Muralitharan.

Kenya (probable): Alex Obanda, Seren Waters, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, Maurice Ouma (wk), Rakep Patel, Jimmy Kamande (c), Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Shem Ngoche, Peter Ongondo.

Umpires: Tony Hill (New Zealand) and Shahvir Tarapore (India).

Time: 14.30 local (09.00 GMT).

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)

Pictures Getty Images