27 Feb : Mahela Jayawardena admitted on Sunday that Kenya, who defeated his team in a stunning 2003 World Cup triumph, still have players to cause another shock when the two meet on Tuesday.
Eight years ago, Sri Lanka lost by 53 runs to Kenya in Nairobi as the unheralded Africans went on to reach the semi-finals.
Jayawardena is one of three survivors from that game, along with skipper Kumar Sangakkara and spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
“We know all about the embarrassment of losing to Kenya after that debacle in Nairobi back in 2003 and they have some useful players in their ranks,” said Jayawardena, who made just five runs as his team were bowled out for 157.
Sri Lanka go into the Group A match at the R. Premadasa stadium on the back of an 11-run defeat to Pakistan on Saturday with former captain Jayawardena urging his team to stay focused.
“Our priority must remain to stay focused on the next game against Kenya on Tuesday night,” he said, writing a column in the privately-run Sunday Times newspaper.
“There will be some bigger matches ahead this week as the pace of the tournament picks up. I hope that also means that we build up momentum and get into a good tournament groove.”
Jayawardena said the tournament has thrown up a few interesting trends in the first week.
“Sides have not quite raced out of the blocks and have preferred to keep wickets in hand,” said the former skipper who guided his side to the final in 2007 where they lost to Australia.
“We’ll have to see whether that continues when the matches get closer,” he said also adding that there were substantial differences in conditions in the three hosting countries.”
“That is going to make for some interesting tactical decisions with regard to match strategy and selection during the coming weeks.”