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Buoyant Lanka take on Kenya

Nairobi: Sri Lanka and Kenya renew their World Cup rivalry Monday in a game that seems destined to be overshadowed by a huge security operation.

The match venue of Nairobi Gymkhana, bordering the city’s northern suburb estate of Park Road, where most of the Kenyan players were bred, has already turned into a mini-fortress.

An elite anti-terrorist unit from South Africa was flown into the country to reinforce the Kenyan police following an attack of an Israeli-owned tourist hotel in the coastal city of Mombasa last November. Security concerns in the country forced the New Zealand to forfeit their match against Kenya last Friday.

But the Lankans saw no reason not to travel to Kenya — perhaps as a pay-back for the gesture their hosts showed when they honoured, against all security precautions, their preliminary match of the 1996 World Cup in Kandy.

In that game, the Lankans piled up a record World Cup total of 395 for five, with Aravinda De Silva contributing a career-best 145 off 115 balls.

Kenya skipper Steve Tikolo said he wanted to bat first. “The wicket is even, has no grass and ideal for one-day game.” But he remains wary about the devastating form displayed by the 1996 champions in the three matches so far.

Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya, who scored a century against the Black Caps, said he will not under-estimate the Kenyans. “Every team that competes at this level has something to offer. I believe it will be particularly difficult to defeat Kenya.”

The game also gives veteran Aravinda to display his wares after getting a bat only once in the last three matches. He will also have to show some form, having hit a low of late.

Teams

Sri Lanka (from): Sanath Jayasuriya (capt), Maravan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda De Silva, Russel Arnold, Jehan Mubarak, Avishka Gunawardena, Hashan Tillekeratne, Muttiah Muralidharan, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Prabath Nissanka, Charitha Buddhika.

Kenya (from): Steve Tikolo (capt.), Maurice Odumbe, Asif Karim, Alpesh Vadher, Ravindu Shah, Hitesh Modi, Brijal Patel, Martin Suji, Tony Suji, Thomas Odoyo, Kennedy Otieno, Joseph Angara, Peter Ongondo, David Obuya, Collins Obuya.

Umpires: Daryl Harper (Aus) And Russell Tiffin (Zim)

Third Umpire: A.V. Jayaprakash (Ind) (AFP)

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