Over in double quick time

FARVEEZ MAHAROOF harpoons the big whale, Brian Lara.-PHOTO: K R DEEPAK

Sri Lanka had an unlikely hero in seamer Farveez Maharoof in its match against the West Indies. G. Viswanath reports.

It was simply not cricket. By 5 p.m. on a dazzling Saturday at the Cricket Club of India (CCI), Mumbai, the ground staff was on work with a light roller on a pitch that had swallowed 10 West Indies batsmen for a paltry 80 off 184 balls! Seamer Farveez Maharoof's outstanding analysis of six for 14 had caused the West Indian calamity and it was only a formality for Sri Lanka to post a nine-wicket victory.

Chris Gayle, riding the crest of success with two `Man of the Match' awards, was, however, a marked man. Chaminda Vaas's superb release of the ball, the visible outward bend in the air and thereafter the low bounce certainly did not come with a `Start the party' invitation to the left- handed batsman. Soon Gayle could not avoid nicking a fine delivery from Vaas to 'keeper Kumar Sangakkara.

The dismissal of Gayle brought Ramnaresh Sarwan to the middle for the first time in the competition. He lasted just three balls, a Vaas victim for no score. The previous evening Mahela Jayawardene was asked whether he would retain his winning combination. The response from the Lankan captain was: "Well, Chaminda (Vaas) is an automatic choice for the big picture match."

Vaas gave Lanka a perfect start and fast bowler Lasith Malinga chipped in with the wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul in his opening spell of five overs. Tossed the ball after Vaas' 6-2-6-2 spell, Maharoof got down to business and polished off the West Indies in nine uninterrupted overs from the North Stand end.

The low bounce at the Club House end, where nine wickets fell, was quite obvious. "The pitch was slow, but it's not so bad that we should have been all out for less than 100. We did not bat well.

I don't want to single out any one batsman though. The Sri Lankans bowled well and most of the batsmen were out bowled or leg before," said Lara at the press conference. "It's fantastic. I am just overjoyed with my performance. I just assessed my bowling in respect to the wicket. In the previous match I gave a bit of width and was driven. Here I bowled wicket to wicket," said Maharoof after winning his third `Man of the Match' award.

Jayawardene was quite happy in the end. He and Sanath Jayasuriya had made merry after Upul Tharanga had played on to Fidel Edwards. Praising Maharoof's effort Jayawardene said: "He worked with Tom (Moody) on his run-up after looking at the videos of his bowling and today he bowled nice and straight."

The Scores

ICC Champions Trophy, Qualifying match, West Indies vs Sri Lanka, Mumbai, October 14, 2006. Sri Lanka won by nine wickets. West Indies 80 in 30.4 overs (W. Hinds 28, F. Maharoof six for 14) lost to Sri Lanka 83 for one in 13.2 overs (S. Jayasuriya 45 not out, M. Jayawardene 34 not out).