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Lanka 'A' geared up to take on Kenya in one-day series

Sa'adi Thawfeeq reporting from Kurunegala

KURUNEGALA, Tuesday - Having outplayed the Kenyans in the longer version of the game - the four-day unofficial tests, Sri Lanka 'A' are gearing up to face Kenya in a series of three unofficial one-day internationals beginning at the Welagedera Stadium here tomorrow.

As it is the case, it is always important to strike first, and Sri Lanka 'A' coach and manager Roshan Mahanama is quite wary of that fact.

"The first game of any series is important and we won't be taking the Kenyans lightly," said Mahanama.

"It is important that we continue to perform well as a team," he said. The Kenyans' approach on the tour so far has been akin to the one-day games for which they have been given International Cricket Council (ICC) recognition. The overs-limit game is something which the Kenyans are quite familiar with and, they are quite capable of giving Sri Lanka 'A' a good run, provided they can overcome the disappointment of their 3-0 whitewash of the 'Test' series and their strongest department, the batting, clicks.

They have provided quite a few shocks in the one-day version of the game defeating West Indies in a World Cup match and then India in another triangular tournament. "The one-day version suits the boys more it is just that they should get their disappointment out and start afresh. We have played a lot more one-day cricket and we are going to regroup ourselves, get the disappointment of the string of defeats and rethink for a start of a new series," said Kenyan team manager Harilal Shah.

One player whom the Kenyans will miss a lot is Thomas Odoyo who was forced to return home due to a hamstring injury on his right leg.

"We will miss him very much because he is a very powerful hitter of the ball and he is a good bowler, quite quick. Odoyo recently went to South Africa for the triangular between Kenya, India and South Africa and he ranked among the very higher echelons of cricketers with ICC's high performance manager Bob Woolmer (the former England player and South African coach)," said Shah.

"We'll miss Odoyo, but some players will have to play better than themselves, to compensate for his loss," he said.

From the Sri Lanka 'A' squad of 14, batsman Anushka Polonowita and fast bowler Kaushalya Weeraratne are unlikely to play leaving the only change in the side to be decided between left-arm spinners Rangana Herath and Sajeewa Weerakoon. Herath with his experience will probably get the nod.

Fast bowler Dulip Liyanage and all-rounder Gayan Wijekoon are likely to get their first game against the tourists. The rest of the squad figured in the recently concluded 'Test' series.

Kenya will be hoping their captain Maurice Odumbe will strike form in this series. He managed only 72 runs in six innings in the 'Test' series getting out on the last four occasions to his vis--vis Upul Chandana. They have a complement of 15 players to select their final 11.

The pitch at Welagedera Stadium is generally slow and tends to keep low which may not be the ideal one for a one-day game. The second game is scheduled for Saturday at De Soysa Stadium, Moratuwa and the final one on Monday at the NCC grounds. The teams: SRI LANKA 'A' (from): Upul Chandana (captain), Avishka Gunawardana, Upekha Fernando, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Prasanna Jayawardene, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Rangana Herath, Pulasthi Gunaratne, Dulip Liyanage, Gayan Wijekoon, Sajeewa Weerakoon, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Anushka Polonowita.

KENYA (from): Maurice Odumbe (captain), Kennedy Otieno, Ravindu Shah, Steve Tikolo, Hitesh Modi, Otieno Suji, Collins Obuya, Lamech Onyango, Martin Suji, Brijal Patel, Joseph Angara, Josephat Sorengo, David Obuya, Thomas Odoyo, Mohammad Sheikh.

UMPIRES: Gamini Silva and Jagath Nandakumara, Match Referee: Ashley de Silva.

Umpire Francis tours the Far East

Former Sri Lanka Test umpire K.T. Francis completed a 12-day tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong and Thailand conducting seminars and workshops for umpires in those countries.

Francis was assigned to these countries by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) which bore all his expenses.

Francis said 30 umpires followed the seminars and workshops in Singapore, 20 in Malaysia and 14 in Thailand. He said only six turned up in Hongkong because it was the period of the Chinese New Year and everyone had gone on vacation. Francis updated the umpires on the new amendments that have been made to the Laws of Cricket and how to interpret them.

Another Sri Lanka Test umpire Peter Manuel is conducting similar programs in Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan. 

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