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Choking security welcomes Lanka

Nairobi: Sri Lanka’s cricketers were welcomed by anti-riot police and surveillance planes when they arrived in Nairobi Thursday for their World Cup Group B match against Kenya.

Kenyan cricket chiefs have said they will take no chances for the only World Cup match they are hosting, following several security alerts in the east African region.

New Zealand refused to travel to Nairobi for Friday’s Group B game, citing security concerns, and the sport’s governing body refused their request to have the match moved to South Africa.

The Sri Lankans, who are due to play Kenya Monday, flew into a Jomo Kenyatta international airport reinforced with heavily armed South African Defence Force personnel. A fixed-wing surveillance plane flew over the area. The team was given a presidential security escort complete with two outriders and 10 police vehicles from the airport to the Holiday Inn hotel in Nairobi’s Parklands suburbs. Police sharp shooters were perched on top of the airport buildings.

Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya was nonplussed by the security. “We don’t have any security concerns at all and we are happy to play in Nairobi,” he said. “We want to play some good cricket here, hoping to win and reach the Super Six.”

He said the team was in good shape, although seam bowler Pulasthi Gunaratne will not play against Kenya because of injury. “We need every point but we are aware that Kenya will be playing in their own country under their own conditions. It is a very important match to us, like all first round matches,” Jayasuriya said.

The Kenyan team held their nets in the morning at Ruaraka Sports Club as hawk-eyed security men watched from a distance, and the surveillance plane flew over the training ground.

Business premises around Nairobi Gymkhana Club, where the match will take place, will be closed until Tuesday. (Reuters)

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