Lop-sided it was

Fiery burst... Lasith Malinga proved too hot for Bermuda's comfort.-AP

Sri Lanka revelled, while Bermuda, making its debut in the World Cup, marvelled. For the minnow side the new experience meant a lot. S. Ram Mahesh reports.

There was never any question about the result. The only matter unresolved was the margin. In the end, Bermuda, in its World Cup debut, fortunately fell short of setting an embarrassing record: Irving Romaine's side lost by 243 runs — the second-highest margin of defeat in World Cup history.

Bermuda had its moments in the first half of the match — Mahela Jayawardene said so — but, by the time Muttiah Muralitharan dismissed Dwayne Leverock, Bermuda's heavyweight left-armer, the minnow side had been hopelessly outclassed.

"It was a new experience," said Bermuda captain Irving Romaine. "(Lasith) Malinga ripped through us. There's nothing to replicate an action like that. We aren't quite used to that pace and the action made it tougher. Even David Hemp, who is our experienced player, said it was the toughest he faced."

Confronted by Malinga, Bermuda's batsmen wilted. At one stage, the team was in danger of being dismissed for the lowest score in the World Cup. The delivery Malinga slung to dismiss Hemp was a corker; Romaine went next ball, leg-before, beaten by pace; the hat-trick ball involved a close shout for leg-before as well.

Only Lionel Cann, the all-rounder, passed 25. He did it belligerently. He had the temerity and skill to swipe Muttiah Muralitharan for six. "You know, we watch these guys on TV, and say we can hit this guy for six or that guy for six," said Romaine. "Lionel may have thrown his wicket away with a loose shot, but when he gets in the bus he'll be asking, `Did you see the six I hit off Murali?'"

Earlier in the day, Jayawardene won the toss and proceeded to regain form. He was let off first ball. He averaged just 14.5 in his previous 10 ODIs; it was a spot of much-needed luck. Slowly but surely he found his touch.

Jayawardene cover-drove on bent knee; he also managed to bring an adroit bat across to glance fine. Singles were on offer, as was a bad ball every over. He added 150 for the third wicket with Kumar Sangakkara to set Sri Lanka up for a big total. Chamara Silva then made a capable unbeaten 55 to take his side to 321.

"We all marvelled in the experience. It means so much to us," said Romaine.

"It took us time to settle the nerves. We all must learn to control our emotions. Sri Lanka has made more than 400 against minnows, so we done good, we done good. We cordoned off boundaries, we took some good catches. We did drop two simple ones. We let off the captain (Jayawardene) on 0, and he punished us. Missing catches at this level is a sin."

The scores: Sri Lanka 321 for six in 50 overs (U. Tharanga 30, M. Jayawardene 85, K. Sangakkara 76, C. Silva 55 not out) bt Bermuda 78 in 24.4 overs (L. Cann 28, L. Malinga three for 10, F. Maharoof four for 23). Sri Lanka won by 243 runs.