|The ICC's decision to reduce the teams from 14 to 10 at the 2015 World Cup looks all the more likely [AFP]
There was to be no giant killing at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday as Kenya were flattened by Sri Lanka thanks to an outstanding performance by fast bowler Lasith Malinga.
Malinga became the first man to take two Cricket World Cup hat tricks when he led Sri Lanka to a nine-wicket battering of lowly Kenya, continuing the dominance of Test-playing nations over smaller teams.
Four years after Malinga took four wickets from four balls against South Africa, the bowler marked his first appearance at this year's tournament with career-best figures of 6-38 as Sri Lanka bowled out Kenya for 142.
Sri Lanka then reached their target in 18.4 overs for a second win from three Group A matches, bouncing back in style from Saturday's 11-run loss to Pakistan.
"Lasith, as usual, the champion that he is, the ball reversing, he did a great job for us," summed up Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara.
Malinga showed no signs of the back strain which had prevented him from competing in Sri Lanka's first two games, taking a hat-trick just a day after the West Indies' Kemar Roach took the first at this year's tournament.
For Kenya, it was another bitterly disappointing night, with only half-centuries from brothers Collins and David Obuya lifting the gloom with a 94-run stand for Kenya's third wicket.
"Once they got out, we crumbled again,'' Kenya captain Jimmy Kamande said.
"It's like a habit for us now, one bowler gets more than four or five (wickets) every game that we have played in the tournament.''
Kenya crumbled from a respectable 102-2 to 142 all out in 43.4 overs after choosing to bat first.
M Ouma lbw b Kulasekara 1
S Waters lbw b Malinga 3
C Obuya b Malinga 52
D Obuya c S'weera b M'litharan 51
S Tikolo c Dilshan b Mathews 7
T Mishra lbw b Malinga 0
J Kamande run out 1
N Odhiambo not out 8
P Ongondo b Malinga 0
S Ngoche b Malinga 0
E Otieno b Malinga 0
Total: (all out; 43.4 overs) 142
Fall of wickets: 1-4 2-8 3-102 4-120 5-127 6-128 7-137 8-137
Sri Lanka innings
U Tharanga not out 67
T Dilshan c Ouma b Otieno 44
K Sangakkara not out 27
Total (for one wicket; 18.4 overs) 146
Fall of wicket: 1-72
A 94-run partnership between Collins Obuya (52 off 100 balls) and his elder sibling David (51 off 106 balls) raised hopes that Kenya might cross the 200-run mark before Malinga flummoxed them with a stunning final burst to blow away the Kenyan tail.
He got rid of Collins with a toe crusher in the 32nd over before returning for his final burst to flatten the Kenyans with near-unplayable inswinging yorkers as he bagged four wickets in five legal balls over two overs.
Malinga trapped Mishra lbw with the final delivery of his seventh over and then returned to knock over the stumps of Ongondo and Ngoche with the first two balls of his next over.
Sri Lankan fans were already dancing in the stands to celebrate the achievement and when Malinga grounded Elijah Otieno's leg stump to grab his sixth victim of the day, a deafening roar reverberated around the stadium.
Malinga could only shake his mass of blond-tinted hair in disbelief as he looked up to the arena's giant scoreboard which displayed a sign reading 6-38 underneath a picture of the man of the moment.
The Kenyans were left to reflect on their dramatic collapse as it took only 22 deliveries for them to go from 127 for four to being bowled out - with four batsmen falling for a duck.
Once Malinga had played his part, Sri Lanka knocked the runs off the runs in double quick time, with Tillakaratne Dilshan the only man to fall for 44.
Upul Tharanga ended the match with a boundary struck over cover to remain unbeaten on 67 scored off 59 balls with 12 fours. Sangakkara was 27 not out.
The International Cricket Council's decision to trim the tournament from 14 to 10 teams for 2015 continues begins to look less controversial after Kenya's third heavy beating of the competition.
While the Kenyans are looking at an early exit after also losing by 10 wickets to New Zealand and 205 runs to Pakistan, the Netherlands and Canada have also taken big losses.