S. Ram Mahesh
Jayawardene declared Man of the MatchAggressive bowling from Malinga and Maharoof
Port of Spain: Inevitably, snide questions were asked of the presence of Bermuda and by extension the minnows in the World Cup.
The defeat in an unequal contest was expected. The margin, 243 runs, second-highest in World Cup history behind Namibia's 256-run loss to Australia in 2003, was what set tongues wagging.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, declared the Man of the Match, knew they were coming; he has answered questions on whether the minnows should be exposed on the grandest stage at least twice already, so his reply was ready.
"Sri Lanka didn't get trashed by the West Indies and some of the big sides in the '75 World Cup and we came back to win in '96. It's good as long as there is steady progress," said Jayawardene, whose 85 was seven more than Bermuda's score.
"I'm sure the ICC will monitor their progress. For us, it's always good to have these countries playing."
Did he see anything encouraging? "I think they bowled very well first up in the conditions they were given," said Jayawardene.
Difference in batting
Bermuda certainly had its moments in the field. With the bat, however, the chasm between the sides was cruelly shown up.
"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. Bowling machine, yes, Malinga, no!"
The delivery Malinga slung to dismiss Hemp was a `corker' blindingly quick, it crowded the left-hander and menaced him to edge it. Romaine went next ball, leg-before after beaten by pace. The hat-trick ball involved a close shout for leg-before as well.
Thereafter Maharoof added to his one-day tally with controlled in-duckers. Only Lionel Cann resisted. 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?"'
Kevin Hurdle managed the same feat too. But, Muralitharan trapped the popular Dwayne Leverock in front to end Bermuda's first World Cup match.
"We all marvelled in the experience. It means so much to us," said Romaine.
Jayawardene, understandably, didn't read too much into the victory. "We played Bermuda, we must take that into consideration. Our aim was not to be complacent," he said.
The moment that best demonstrated the meticulousness of Sri Lanka's preparation and the degree of its intent was when Hemp walked in.
Often teams playing minnows will wait till the batsman takes strike to set the field. It's either down to ignorance (is he a left-hander?) or a throttling back of intensity levels.
Hemp had taken two steps on the plush Queen's Park Oval outfield when the Sri Lankan cricketers were in position. The field had been customised for the left-hander.
Sri Lanka's only worry from the match was Sanath Jayasuriya's finger injury. But, Jayawardene said it wasn't serious, and that the veteran not coming out to field was precautionary.
Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga c Minors b Hurdle 30, S. Jayasuriya c Pitcher b Mukuddem 22, M. Jayawardene c Hurdle b Cann 85, K. Sangakkara c Tucker b Leverock 76, C. Silva (not out) 55, T. Dilshan c Tucker b Hurdle 12, F. Maharoof c Hemp b Mukuddem 9, R. Arnold (not out) 2, Extras (lb-3, nb-14, w-13) 30, Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs) 321.
Fall of wickets: 1-62, 2-78, 3-228, 4-267, 5-305, 6-316.
Bermuda bowling: Hurdle 9-1-61-2, Mukuddem 10-0-50-2, Tucker 10-0-50-0, Leverock 10-0-67-1, Borden 3-0-27-0, Cann 5-0-34-1, Romaine 3-0-29-0.
Bermuda: C. Smith lbw b Vaas 0, O. Pitcher b Maharoof 6, S. Mukuddem c Sangakkara b Malinga 0, D. Hemp c Jayawardene b Malinga 14, I. Romaine lbw b Malinga 0, J. Tucker b Muralitharan 4, D. Minors c Sangakkara b Maharoof 4, L. Cann c Sangakkara b Maharoof 28, D. Borden c sub b Maharoof 6, K. Hurdle (not out) 6, D. Leverock lbw b Muralitharan 1, Extras (lb-6, w-3) 9, Total (in 24.4 overs) 78.
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-2, 3-20, 4-20, 5-25, 6-29, 7-39, 8-64, 9-77.
Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 6-3-11-1, Malinga 5-2-10-3, Maharoof 7-1-23-4, Muralitharan 6.4-0-28-2.