WICKET! Hope b Malinga 5 (West Indies 22-2)
Hope chops the slower ball on! Gayle might be battling but Malinga is turning the clock back. “He still has all the tricks,” says Simon Doull. Not wrong. That might not look like much of a delivery well outside the off-stump but it does enough to force the batsman into an error. “Malinga’s greatest strength is adaptability,” adds Kumar Sangakkara. Well said. The Windies could well get rolled quickly here.
5th over: West Indies 22-2 (Gayle 7)
4th over: West Indies 20-1 (Gayle 7, Hope 5) Nearly a very Chris Gayle run out at the non-strikers’ end when jogging through for one and only just getting his bat down in time. Dhananjaya isn’t giving them anything to hit early on here.
In response to my opening post, Peter Collins has a thought. “Possibly apt is the Blyth Power album Wicked Women, Wicked Men and Wicketkeepers.”
I’ve said it a few times on here that Sports Team, the band that launched England’s World Cup kit, have an EP called Winter Nets. They’re ever so good.
3rd over: West Indies 17-1 (Gayle 5, Hope 4) Beamer! You don’t see that very often in pro cricket, Hope getting under a full toss from Malinga, his second ball in the middle. Gee, watching it back it nearly hit leg stump. Still, there’s no doubt it was above waist height in his stance so it would have remained a no-ball. Once Malinga lands the ball where he is meant to, Hope gets off the mark with a classy off drive.
“If England were to pull the Justin Roy caper against Australia in the knockout phases,” writes Nick Toovey, “I fear Ricky Ponting will abandon his assistant coaching position and go looking for Gary Pratt.”
WICKET! Ambris c K Perera b Malinga 5 (West Indies 12-1)
Malinga gets Ambris with the bumper! He had a pop at hooking but only got a little top edge, sailing comfortably into the gloves of Perera. No review requried there.
2nd over: West Indies 11-0 (Gayle 5, Ambris 5) Dhananjaya is opening with his more-than-useful offies. He finds Gayle’s inside edge first up, but it spills away to short fine for a couple. He then beats him on the other side of the bat with a pearler. Singles down the ground come eventually but the spinner is straight on top.
1st over: West Indies 6-0 (Gayle 1, Ambris 4) How about these two old boys running around in the World Cup? What a sport. Malinga, with his little flying saucers, beats the West Indian opener first up before he gets off the mark with a single. Ambris, who was flown in for the final week of the campaign as an injury replacement, gets off the mark with a crisp, cover-driven boundary. Nice.
The players are on the field! Malinga to Gayle. Let’s party like it’s 2003. PLAY!
An email from Ethan Forbes to get us going before the players return. “Jason Roy must be pleased that all of the harrumphing today is about Dhoni packing it in early,” he begins. “It seemed just a little unsporting that he came back into the side to save the day with the bat and then rode off into the sunset while Vince took over his fielding duties. Perhaps there should be some limit to the number overs that a sub can be on the field? Say 5 of the 50 overs? That way Holder can still get a quick mani-pedi, or someone could go change a boot or get a cramp strapped up, but the side batting first doesn’t get a pass on the whole overs in the field dictates batting order. Or carry over and tell Roy he can’t bat until 7 in the next match.
Oh, and the obvious first tie breaker is head to head result. Sri Lanka already beat England once, amiright?”
On your first point, I’ve been thinking about this a fair bit. How can a bruise on Roy’s arm get him out of fielding? Can we call it a precedent? Then, if India bat first in the World Cup Final (let’s say), why wouldn’t Rohit Sharma’s teammates punch him in the arm several times after he’s batted so that Ravi Jadeja can do the work for him in the paddock later in the day? I’m onto something here.
There was a bit on the TV then about Chris Gayle. It was documenting how great he’s been at the World Cup. Fair enough. Once more this afternoon, perhaps?
Speaking of. I knew that Lance Klusener’s 1999 tournament was brilliant. But until going back through it 20 years later, I perhaps didn’t appreciate that it was the greatest World Cup campaign every put together by a player. It’s just wrong how much focus there is on that final ball at Edgbaston. We interviewed him about it.
Good afternoon to you all. Thanks Rob. This may be a dead rubber as far as the table is concerned, but… Avishka Fernando! What a revelation. He gave us the taste for it against England and South Africa but the full experience was quite a treat over the last couple of hours. Is he Damien a young Martyn in disguise? I’m fairly certain he’s a young Damien Martyn in disguise.
Who likes punk and sport? Fire up for the afternoon with this, out of my home town of Melbourne, about Essendon dasher Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti.
West Indies need 339 to win. That would be a record World Cup runchase, but someone’s going to do it in this tournament, right? The 21-year-old Avishka Fernando made a delightful 104, while Kusal Perera provided the usual bish-bosh with a rapid 64.
50th over: Sri Lanka 338-6 (Thirimanne 45, de Silva 6) Cottrell’s final over goes for 11, including a deft steer to the boundary by Dhananjaya de Silva, to complete a fine batting performance from Sri Lanka.
WICKET! Sri Lanka 327-6 (Udana c Holder b Thomas 3)
48th over: Sri Lanka 321-5 (Thirimanne 39, Udana 0) After a difficult start, Thirimanne is enjoying his death-hitting role. He boosts Cottrell to cow corner for a one-bounce four, which takes him to 39 from 28 balls.
“It is far more likely that India wanted to spare themselves the indignity of having to swing the bat frantically and risk looking well beaten and spent,” says Jeff Docherty. “India have also developed something of a superiority complex over the years and want to lose on their terms and therefore remain in control. They hate losing and don’t want to give that satisfaction to another team. The rest is conjecture and the imagination running wild.”
You might be right. If so, that’s one hell of a moral victory.
WICKET! Sri Lanka 314-5 (Fernando c Allen b Cottrell 104)
Avishka Fernando’s beautiful innings is over. He lifts Cottrell’s slower ball high towards long on, where Allen takes a nicely judged catch. Fernando walks off to a standing ovation, raising his bat modestly, and his teammates all congratulate him when he reaches the dressing-room. That was a delightful performance.
AVISHKA FERNANDO MAKES A GLORIOUS MAIDEN CENTURY!
47th over: Sri Lanka 313-4 (Fernando 104, Thirimanne 31) He’s done it! The Sri Lankan balcony are on their feet long before Fernando completes the second run that takes him to a charming hundred. It’s come from exactly 100 balls, with eight fours and two spectacular sixes. He becomes the third youngest centurion at the World Cup, behind Ireland’s Paul Stirling and Australia’s Ricky Ponting. And if his three innings at this tournament are anything to go by, he is a potential superstar.
46th over: Sri Lanka 304-4 (Fernando 97, Thirimanne 30) Fernando flicks Thomas past short fine leg for four to move to bring up the 300, and a single off the next ball takes him to within three of a maiden ODI century. Try telling him this is a dead rubber.
45th over: Sri Lanka 294-4 (Fernando 91, Thirimanne 26) Superb batting from Thirimanne, who charges consecutive deliveries from Brathwaite and dumps them both down the ground for four. The first shot was unashamedly agricultural; the second was a lovely drive over mid-off. At the other end, Fernando is inching towards a hundred – although he survives another run-out chance when Cottrell’s throw from the outfield just misses the stumps.
44th over: Sri Lanka 281-4 (Fernando 90, Thirimanne 15) This West Indies performance has officially moved beyond satire: Thirimanne has been dismissed off a no-ball. Mikey Holding’s internal monologue at this precise moment is surely one of the great pieces of lost comedy.
43rd over: Sri Lanka 275-4 (Fernando 86, Thirimanne 14) Oh my! A short ball from Cottrell is pulled miles over midwicket for six by Fernando. “He looks the real deal, this boy,” says Kumar Sangakkara on commentary. Imagine being a 21-year-old Sri Lankan and finding out that Kumar Sangakkara has said that about you. Not that he knows yet, but I’m sure he will.
“Dhoni Consultancy Inc.?” muses Matt Dony. “Yes, Brian Withington. I like the sound of it. Slight tweak, and then a quick call to Companies House…”
One small problem. He has 7.49m Twitter followers/potential clients. You’re still on 7, right?
42nd over: Sri Lanka 264-4 (Fernando 79, Thirimanne 12) Fernando blasts the ball into the stumps at the non-striker’s end, and screams the F-word in frustration. That sounded Ben Folds singing Rockin’ the Suburbs. Holder finishes a slightly angry spell of bowling with figures of 10-0-59-2.
“How about two groups of six?” says Mohit Srivastava. “The top three reach the Super Six stage, carrying points against the other two progressing teams from their groups. Each team in the Super Six plays three games against teams qualifying from the other group, and at end each team has points from five games. The top four play the semis, or an IPL-like eliminator. The total number of games in this format is only five less than the current format. Two additional teams get to play the cup. And there is no inconsequential match. And don’t think anyone will be taking the two additional qualifying teams lightly.”
The Super Sixes did cause a few problems, not least when Steve Waugh read the small print, but they also provided instant jeopardy for the big sides. I’d probably file the Super Sixes under Lesser evils’.
41st over: Sri Lanka 257-4 (Fernando 76, Thirimanne 8) A good over from Cottrell, who concedes just four runs. This is now the highest score of Fernando’s fledgling ODI career. His previous best was 74 against Scotland at Edinburgh in May.
40th over: Sri Lanka 253-4 (Fernando 75, Thirimanne 5) Thirimanne edges his first ball for four, just wide of the falling Chris Gayle in a floating slip position. Those runs make this Sri Lanka’s highest score of the tournament.
“The worry with India is Rahul, and not just that he’s out of form,” says Andrew Hurley. “India’s batting strategy is based on the top three scoring the majority of their runs, and at a good lick, as the middle order can’t really accelerate (though Pant wd help this). Dhawan, an integral part of this order, is gone and replaced by an out of form player, who scores, when he does, too slowly, thereby putting pressure on parts of the team that can’t take it. This is a bit of an issue I think.”
Yes, Dhawan is a big loss. Pant is a good addition, and Pandya is batting superbly, but it’s an uneven top order. They have a long tail, too, although that also means they have the best bowling line-up in the competition.
WICKET! Sri Lanka 247-4 (Mathews b Holder 26)
A perfect yorker from Jason Holder cleans up Angelo Mathews. There’s not much else to say, really; it was textbook stuff from Holder.
39th over: Sri Lanka 247-3 (Fernando 74, Mathews 25) Matthews gets stuck into the spinner Fabian Allen, slicing four over backward point before lashing a six over wide long-off. He has 26 from 19 balls; Fernando has 74 from 78.
“Rob,” says Brian Withington. “I’ve previously rather liked the idea of something very much like David Pienaar’s Cape Town format but then worried that teams operating in the middle-upper echelon (ranked 4-6) might have a rather powerful incentive to drop to rank 7 before the final tournament positions are decided! Could make for some interesting opportunities for the start-up Dhoni Consultancy Inc. though.”
“Rob,” says Brian Withington. “I’ve previously rather liked the idea of something very much like David Pienaar’s format but then worried that teams operating in the middle-upper echelon (ranked 4-6) might have a rather powerful incentive to drop to rank 7 before the final tournament positions are decided! Could make for some interesting opportunities for the start-up Dhoni Consultancy Inc. though.”
38th over: Sri Lanka 235-3 (Fernando 73, Mathews 15) Mathews slaps Holder through extra cover for four, a cracking shot, before Fernando picks a slower ball and swings it over mid-off for two. Sri Lanka are cruising towards their highest score of the competition, which was 247 against Australia.
37th over: Sri Lanka 224-3 (Fernando 69, Mathews 9) A short ball from Gabriel is back cut for four by Fernando. The cricket, in truth, is far less entertaining than Mikey Holding’s burgeoning meltdown in the commentary box. “There’s a deep midwicket. What’s he bowling, offbreaks?”
Gabriel then does bowl an offbreak, which Fernando edges just short of the keeper. “Yes, he is,” deadpans the co-commentator Simon Doull.
An eventful over, which also includes a free hit for a high full toss, concludes when Ambris twists his left ankle while trying to save a boundary. He’s receiving treatment behind the boundary.
36th over: Sri Lanka 214-3 (Fernando 64, Mathews 5) “Hi Rob,” says David Loveday. “Since we’re all speculating about India’s batting yesterday, here’s a theory: it was all about depriving England of a victory against India going at full pelt in this World Cup. The teams may well face each other again, in a match that actually matters for India. So once it was clear they would have an almighty struggle to win yesterday’s match, why not ease off and plant seeds of doubt in the England team as to whether they could really do it when it counts? Strikes me as far more plausible than the fiddling with NRR, and has the virtue of crediting some top Indian players with the strategic intelligence they undoubtedly have.”
There might be something in that. My instinct is that you slightly overstate it – I don’t think it will have any impact on the England dressing-room – but perhaps it was a way of diverting some attention from a very impressive victory. Either that or it was just MS being MS, because he’s MS and he can do what MS wants.
35th over: Sri Lanka 209-3 (Fernando 61, Mathews 3) After a direct hit from the outfield, one of the bails flicks up to hit Gabriel in the face. Thankfully it hit him between the eyes, or that could have been nasty.
“Hope you haven’t been put on dead-rubber duty because of ‘the incident’,” says Ian Copestake. “Maybe you will have learned your lesson in time for a double dose of redemption on Wednesday.”
I’ve told you already: that designer jewellery was just resting in my satchel.
34th over: Sri Lanka 201-3 (Fernando 56, Mathews 0) Avishka Fernando continues to charm the cognoscenti, and the OBO community as well. He runs down the track to lift Allen over extra-cover for a gorgeous one-bounce four.
The ICC don’t have a Young Player of the Tournament award. If they did, and they should, Fernando would be a strong contender along with Shaheen Afridi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, even if the award would ultimately go to Rishabh Pant after his 27-ball 194 against England in the final.
33rd over: Sri Lanka 196-3 (Fernando 51, Mathews 0) Fernando, having survived a run-out chance earlier in the over, pulls Thomas sweetly for four to reach a classy half-century, the second of his ODI career and his first in the World Cup.
“Greetings from Cape Town,” says David Pienaar, “where I’ve solved the World Cup format!
- Two pools of 6 (giving the ICC that longed for ‘global reach’) – a top tier (1-6) and a lower tier (7-12) determined by rankings after two (or more) years of ‘normal’ ODI tournaments – simultaneously rendering bilateral ODIs more meaningful
- Thereafter it’s basically IPL format – each team plays every other team in their tier TWICE, to produce a league table
- At the end of the league stages, the top three teams from tier one are joined by the winner of tier two to create a ‘tournament top 4’ – who doesn’t like a bit of a wild card?
- Those top 4 then play as per IPL knockout format – 1 plays 2, the winner gets into the final, but the loser lies in wait for a second bite at the winner of 3 and 4. The winner of that then becomes the second team in the final.
“The other change is that two games of cricket happen per day, one from tier one, one from tier two. What could go wrong? Other than India failing to qualify?”
That looks… intricate.
32nd over: Sri Lanka 189-3 (Fernando 44, Mathews 0) Earlier in the over Fernando played a great shot, running down the track to scorch Allen through extra cover for four. He has looked so good since coming into the side against England, and I hope he goes on to make his first substantial score of the tournament.
WICKET! Sri Lanka 189-3 (K Mendis c and b Allen 39)
Fabian Allen halves his ODI bowling average, and it’s all his own work. Mendis cracked a full toss back towards Allen, who flew to his right to take a spectacular two-handed catch. That was brilliant.
31st over: Sri Lanka 181-2 (Fernando 38, K Mendis 36) A short slower ball from Thomas is muscled over midwicket for four by Fernando.
“Good morning from DC, Rob!” says Kali Srikanth. “Pointing to Dal Dalby’s bonus point method, is/was/can-be useful if the pitches and weather conditions don’t matter as in the Six Nations. But county cricket has these unpredictable conditions to bear. It’s a good thought to start with, but eventually this all leads to one path, the T20 way (which would be awful).”
I think net run-rate is fine, fair and the closest to goal/points difference. What’s the rumpus?
30th over: Sri Lanka 173-2 (Fernando 32, K Mendis 35) The left-arm spinner Allen is hurrying through his overs. Just three singles from that one, and he has figures of 4-0-14-0.
29th over: Sri Lanka 170-2 (Fernando 30, K Mendis 34) Mendis flicks the new bowler Thomas towards midwicket, where Brathwaite goes down in three easy installments and thus gives away four runs. West Indies’ fielding has been on the execrable side of egregious.
28th over: Sri Lanka 164-2 (Fernando 29, K Mendis 29) Mendis sweeps Allen round the corner for four. He can be erratic but when he’s in form he looks a terrific player; today he has raced to 29 from 29 balls.
27th over: Sri Lanka 158-2 (Fernando 28, K Mendis 24) Mendis manipulates Cottrell for three to bring up a run-a-ball fifty partnership.
26th over: Sri Lanka 151-2 (Fernando 27, K Mendis 17) Four singles from Allen’s second over, the last of which takes Sri Lanka to 150 and Allen t0 255. He still has one ODI wicket more than you and me, though.
“On the subject of tiebreakers, could there be an argument for bonus points like the 6 nations or county cricket?” says Dan Dalby. “Bowl a side out for under x Runs get an extra point. Score over 300 and get an extra point. Surely that would not only reward on-field performance but give an exciting game either a high-scoring thriller or a low-scoring tactical showdown?”
At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged fart, that feels a bit gimmicky for a World Cup. It’s just my opinion; I wouldn’t do time for it.
25th over: Sri Lanka 146-2 (Fernando 25, K Mendis 15) “Why not have a plate competition as well as the Cup?” says John Morrissey. “Retain the 10-team format, which, personally, I think is great, but add semi’s and a final for positions 5-8. Maintains interest for all involved and still gives the lesser or poorly performing teams chance for an upset and their day in the sun. Doesn’t solve the NNR, most wins etc. debate, I’ll grant…”
24th over: Sri Lanka 142-2 (Fernando 23, K Mendis 13) It’s time for a bit of spin from the left-armer Fabian Allen. His ODI bowling average is – and you’ll like this – 250. The only way is down, or at least it will be once he takes his second wicket. For the time being it is going up; one run from the over means it is now 251.
23rd over: Sri Lanka 141-2 (Fernando 23, K Mendis 12) Avishka Fernando is your new favourite cricketer. He has just pulled the new bowler Cottrell elegantly, lazily and quite devastatingly for an 83-metre six. He’s only 21, and it looks like Sri Lanka may have found one.
22nd over: Sri Lanka 133-2 (Fernando 15, K Mendis 12) There’s no pressure on the Sri Lankan batsmen, and they look like they are enjoying themselves. Mendis pounds a short ball from Holder for four, and then Fernando gets his first boundary with a gorgeous lofted straight drive.
“I think Dhoni is getting far too much stick for yesterday’s performance,” says Damian Burns. “The Kohli and Rohit have more to answer for with how they began to chase. To be 29-1 off ten when chasing a 300+ score is not good enough. They needed to start with more intent (yes I know Rohit went on to score a ton but that’s not the point).”
I take your point, although I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea of telling Virat Kohli how to construct a runchase. I think he calculated that, with a weakish middle order, India’s best chance of victory was if he or Rohit batted through the innings. And he might have gotten away with it but for that meddling Plunkett.
21st over: Sri Lanka 123-2 (Fernando 9, K Mendis 6) Kusal Mendis dumps a short ball from Brathwaite past mid-on for four, the highlight of another good over for Sri Lanka – 10 from it.
“Tiebreaking by ranking is a terrible idea I have to say,” says Chris Purcell. “Ranking is supposed to reflect performance, and having performance depend on the ranking is circular. In an ideal world, tiebreaks would be settled by an extra match. This is logistically impossible, so all methods like net run rate, games won etc are meant to simulate who would win in such a match up. The obvious thing to do then, is go by who won their previous match, or something along those lines.”