Not taking the opposition lightly

SANJAY RAJAN

Maravan Atapattu-V.V. KRISHNAN

SANATH JAYASURIYA and Chaminda Vaas walked along the boundary line at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium carrying bottles of water for their team-mates. The experienced duo was forced to miss the third match of the IndianOil Cup tri-series against the West Indies on August 2 due to injury.

The team management had decided to play Vaas only in important matches. The left-arm paceman hasn't fully recovered from the hamstring injury sustained during the second Test against the West Indies late last month. Vaas' partner, Nuwan Zoysa, was also down with back spasms and was undergoing treatment in Colombo, while Jayasuriya was recuperating from the shoulder injury he suffered while fielding against India in the lung-opener.

A weak West Indian line-up wasn't expected to pose much of a challenge anyway. But the host skipper Marvan Atapattu didn't take the opposition lightly. "One-day cricket is tricky business because the team that makes lesser mistakes on that day wins. There is very little time to come back, unlike in Test cricket. One has to be careful while taking on a depleted side, for there is every chance of complacency setting in. At no point did we take West Indies for granted," Atapattu explained after his side's 50-run win.

Chasing 242 for victory, West Indies was done in by the young pace pair of Ferveez Mahroof and Dilhara Lokuhettige.They were originally vying for the lone all-rounder's slot before injuries to the two main speedsters presented this young pair the opportunity to parade their wares again.

Kumar Sangakkara-

Mahroof, 20, bowled his full quota in one spell and returned impressive figures of 10-5-9-3. And with Lokuhettige proving to be equally aggressive, the inexperienced Caribbean line-up was reduced to 39 for five in no time.

Playing in only his second one-dayer, Lokuhettige came up with a sensational diving caught and bowled effort in his follow-through to dismiss batting mainstay Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Mahroof was understandably excited at being adjudged Man of the Match. "I was in the team for the Test series against New Zealand. Then I had a stint with the `A' team before being brought back to the main side. I have worked hard at my game in the off-season here and I guess the effort has paid off. My ambition is to make a mark in international cricket," he said. Mahroof described the competition for the all-rounder's slot from Lokuhettige as a nice challenge. "It's part of the game. I want to do well whenever I get an opportunity," he said. Mahroof said Vaas has been a great source of inspiration: "He was constantly egging us on from the sidelines or the dressing room."

The windy conditions in the evening helped the seamers. "I used the wind, and concentrated on hitting the deck. I just did the basics right," Mahroof said.

Young Narsingh Deonarine batted in determined fashion, but it was Dwayne Smith (68, 90b, 9x4, 2x6) who kept the scoreboard moving with a mix of caution and aggression. He put on 36 for the sixth wicket with Deonarine, 46 for the next with wicketkeeper-bat Denesh Ramdin and 49 off just 34 deliveries for the ninth wicket with Butler before Muralitharan bowled him. Sri Lanka clinched the bonus point by one run.

Farveez Mahroof named man of the Match for a three for nine spell.-

Asked why his bowlers were unable to finish the job quickly, Atapattu said, "It would have been nice if we had got Smith earlier. But he had the bat and we had the ball. He kept connecting, and the ball stayed hit. There was not much that we could do, really."

The highly rated left-hander Upul Tharanga made his debut in the place of Jayasuriya. The 20-year-old hails from the tsunami-ravaged fishing hamlet of Balapitiya. He looked impressive in his brief stay, before falling leg-before to the nippy left-arm pacer Deighton Butler, while trying to pull at a delivery that kept low.

Atapattu (70) used the opportunity to regain his form. He and Sangakkara took their time to settle in during their 138-run stand off 207 deliveries. The experienced duo saw off debutant paceman Butler, who bowled his full quota in one spell for one for 25, and shifted gears thereafter.

Sri Lanka took its tally to 11 points from two matches and West Indies none from two. India has seven from two matches, including two bonus points — one from the West Indies match and one for denying Sri Lanka a bonus point in the opening round.

The scores

Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga lbw b Butler 6, M. Atapattu (run out) 70, K. Sangakkara c Chanderpaul b Deonarine 79, D. Lokuhettige st. Ramdin b Deonarine 9, M. Jayawardene b Smith 16, T. Dilshan (run out) 4, R. Arnold (not out) 21, U. Chandana (not out) 15; Extras (b-6, lb-4, nb-4, w-7) 21. Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs) 241.

Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-149, 3-171, 4-191, 5-194, 6-205.

West Indies bowling: Butler 10-2-25-1, Lawson 10-1-63-0, Best 10-1-39-0, Smith 9-1-39-1, Deonarine 10-0-55-2, R. Powell 1-0-10-0.

West Indies: X. Marshall c Sangakkara b Mahroof 6, R. Ramdass b Mahroof 1, S. Joseph c Mahroof b Lokuhettige 9, N. Deonarine b Fernando 23, S. Chanderpaul c & b Lokuhettige 14, R. Powell b Mahroof 2, D. Smith b Muralitharan 68, D. Ramdin b Chandana 29, T. Best lbw b Muralitharan 1, D. Butler (not out) 13, J. Lawson st. Sangakkara b Dilshan 8; Extras (b-4, lb-4, nb-3, w-6) 17. Total (in 45.1 overs) 191.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-18, 3-21, 4-36, 5-39, 6-75, 7-121, 8-128, 9-177.

Sri Lanka bowling: Mahroof 10-5-9-3, Lokuhettige 7-0-30-2, Muralitharan 10-1-46-2, Fernando 8-1-33-1, Chandana 10-0-65-1, Dilshan 0.1-0-0-1.