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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 March, 2003, 07:47 GMT
Spluttering Sri Lanka limp home
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport in Port Elizabeth

Mahela Jayawardene was among Sri Lanka's World Cup disappointments
Jayawardene was a World Cup disappointment
Sri Lanka needed plenty of luck on their side to reach the semi-finals.

But once there, they needed to pull out all the stops and recapture some of that form that has been all too rare a commodity for them in recent times.

The first part of the day worked out well enough - they fielded a bit better than they have done in the past, and bowled pretty decently too.

And having gambled by choosing to play eight batsmen - possibly the first time this tactic had been employed in one-day international cricket - they should have had an even bet of scoring 213 to win the game.

The trouble is their batting has been utterly woeful on many occasions and on Tuesday it got no better.

Mahela Jayawardene, one of the most gifted right-handers in world cricket, ended the tournament with a batting average of three.

Chaminda Vaas (23 wickets)
Muttiah Muralitharan (17 wickets)
Marvan Atapattu (382 runs at 54.6)
Sanath Jayasuriya (321 runs at 40.1; 10 wickets)
Aravinda de Silva (267 runs at 33.8; nine wickets)

Russel Arnold has hardly done any better and, even when he has stuck around, has never scored quickly enough.

Kumar Sangakkara saved his highest score of the World Cup for the semi-final but the game was over as a contest before he scored the vast majority of his unbeaten 39.

Like Arnold, he started the match averaging under 20 and, on these generally good South African pitches, that is simply not enough.

Added to that, Sangakkara's wicket-keeping was, at times, woeful.

It is a shame the final of the World Cup will be played without Marvan Atapattu, second only to Sachin Tendulkar in the tournament run-making list, and Chaminda Vaas, the best bowler in the competition.

The decision to play all eight batsmen in the semi-final showed that Sri Lanka had lost patience with Dilhara Fernando, while they retained faith in Jayawardene.

This was flawed thinking, as Pulasthi Gunaratne, the only specialist bowler besides Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan in the side, had to bowl the penultimate over.

Mahela Jayawardene (21 runs at 3.0)
Russel Arnold (92 runs at 15.3)
Pulasthi Gunaratne (Four wickets at 57.5)
Kumar Sangakkara (Countless wicket-keeping errors)
Dilhara Fernando (Eight wickets at 33.8)

It cost 16 runs, giving him figures of 8-0-60-0, a travesty on this wicket.

In the same way that Sri Lanka's batting has had to rely on only two or three of the team performing, the bowling has been all about Vaas and Murali.

They took more than half of Sri Lanka's wickets between them, and while Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva did what they could with their slow bowling they were never going to turn a match on its head.

There are some plus points, though, to take back to Colombo.

Most observers felt the semi-finals were beyond them when the tournament started, and they started in the best possible way with a fine early win against New Zealand and a demolition job on Bangladesh.

What is worrying, however, is that none of the younger players were able to lift their game for the big occasion, and they could not rely on the old hands every time.

Links to more Sri Lanka stories


Jayasuriya: Batting let us down
18 Mar 03 |  Sri Lanka
Rampant Australia through to final
18 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Australia v Sri Lanka: Over by over
18 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Have Your Say on Sri Lanka
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say

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