World Cup 2015 March 7, 2015

Swinging yorkers, and Zadran's hair flick

ESPNcricinfo's correspondents at the World Cup pick their best moments from the third week of matches

When Tim Southee smashed Aaron Finch's off stump, Eden Park roared © Getty Images

Andrew McGlashan: The cauldron of Eden
New Zealand v Australia, Auckland, February 28
Trent Boult? Mitchell Starc? Kane Williamson? I'm not going to pick any of them. The start to the New Zealand-Australia contest was enveloped in an atmosphere of rare tension and excitement. Fortunately, there was outside seating in the Auckland press area. This was a moment to leave the laptop and soak it in. Rarely, if ever, had a cricket match in the country been so hyped. Tim Southee's first ball was a wide, the first over was all over the place. In his next, Aaron Finch pinged a straight drive over the infamous straight boundaries at Eden Park. Then, next ball, the place erupted. Finch tried to repeat the shot. Southee kept the ball full on off stump. Finch missed. The off stump went back. My goodness, what a noise. And that was only the start.

Brydon Coverdale: Timber!
New Zealand v Australia, Auckland, February 28
Is there any more thrilling sight in cricket than seeing the stumps rattled by a fast, swinging yorker? Yes. Stumps being rattled by fast, swinging yorkers two balls in a row. With a match on the line. When Mitchell Starc hit the base of the stumps and lit up the zing bails to get rid of Adam Milne and then Tim Southee, a possible hat-trick was the least of his worries. He had just bowled Australia to within touching distance of what could only be described as an improbable, impossible win. In the end, it was indeed impossible. Kane Williamson hit a six at the other end to secure New Zealand's victory, but only after they had stumbled from 131 for 4 to 146 for 9 in the space of 21 balls. Eden Park erupted when the win was secured, but the tense finish confirmed that sometimes the lowest-scoring contests are the best.

Abhishek Purohit: Swing it like Hassan
Afghanistan v Australia, Perth, March 4
Australia had soared to 382 for 3 in 46 overs, but the Afghans had not bowled as poorly as that scoreline suggested. They had got in a lot of yorkers at the death too but the Australians had just been too good. The first ball of the 47th found its target though. Hamid Hassan hurled an inswinging yorker and James Faulkner could not prevent it from crashing into his stumps. Hassan - headband, war paint and all - was quite a sight with his chainsaw celebration.

Jarrod Kimber: A proud Afghan
Afghanistan practice, Perth, March 3
The Afghan team were in demand after training before the Australia match. The Indians weren't playing, or talking, or even shouting, and the Indian press focused on the Afghans. Andy Moles, the coach, gave one-on-ones to everyone. Hamid Hassan did a few as well. But Shapoor Zadran was the most in demand. A flock followed him, waiting on his every word, hoping for more flicks of his hair. Zadran knew what they wanted: pace, hair, bounce, style. And gave it to them. Then a female reporter from a magazine sat with him. Suddenly a whole different Zadran was on show. He talked about his family, his religion and his culture. He wasn't pace-and-style Zadran. He was just another proud father, proud cricketer and proud Afghan.

Firdose Moonda: Looking pain in the eye
Pakistan v Zimbabwe, Brisbane, March 1
Watching a sportsman go down in the line of duty is never pleasant and Elton Chigumbura's tumble in Brisbane was one of the worst. The Zimbabwe captain was chasing a ball from mid-off to the boundary when he fell. Immediately, it was clear that it was more than just being tied up in his own feet. Craig Ervine was the first man at Chigumbura's side and helped him sit up but and then stand. He was in obvious pain, which seemed to worsen at every step. He grimaced his way to the sidelines and slowly news filtered through that he had torn his quad but would bat if necessary.

That was laughed off as fanciful and, when Zimbabwe stared down the barrel of defeat, unnecessary. But Chigumbura came out anyway and after the first ball he faced, scrunched his face up with so much tension, many wondered why he was there at all. But slowly, ball after ball, he carried on. By the time the innings was ending, he was running between the wickets, torn muscle and all. He took Zimbabwe to within 20 runs, which may have broken his heart more than his quadriceps. Captains make their names on incidents like these and that for Chigumbura, who leads fairly quietly, may have been the moment he announced his credentials.

Andrew Fidel Fernando: Take it easy, Kumar
England v Sri Lanka, Wellington, March 1
Kumar Sangakkara has scored all the hundreds he could want. He used to speak of 30 Test tons as one of his greatest career ambitions. He now has 38. Even in ODIs, reaching triple figures is now barely cause for celebration. It is now more interesting to watch him at the other end while a younger team-mate nears the milestone. When Thirimanne was striking on 98 against England in the 38th over, Sangakkara tore out of his crease like a madman when Thirimanne had pushed it straight to midwicket. Next ball he set off even more haphazardly and had to dive back into his crease when Thirimanne rightly refused the single. Then the weirdest thing: Thirimanne came down the track to tell Sangakkara to settle down.

There are few fiercer, more opportunistic competitors than Sangakkara. He will beg umpires for wickets his team doesn't deserve. He will fool opposition batsmen, walk when it suits him, then stay at the crease when there is something on the line. But it is in these unguarded, altruistic moments - when he is endangering his own progress for someone else's - that he endears himself most to his team-mates, and to his nation.

George Dobell: Jamshed the cornered tiger
Pakistan v UAE, Napier, March 4
You experience many emotions while watching Nasir Jamshed play international cricket in this form: anger, disbelief, pity and, eventually, bewilderment. No doubt he is, at his best, a fine player. But called into the squad at late notice, he looks like a man who won a competition to represent his county: unfit and horribly out of touch. During Pakistan's match against UAE in Napier, there was a moment that summed up his experience. Having already failed with the bat, having already flapped at a chance in the field and chased after the ball like an asthmatic tortoise delivering bricks up a steep hill, Jamshed's defining moment came when he waddled in to field a ball travelling gently towards him on the boundary. He bent down like an octogenarian and formed a tentative long barrier - nearly every other fielder in the tournament would have picked up and thrown one-handed, only to see the ball find a way through his defence - a recurring feature of his form with the bat, too - and dribble away for extra runs. Everyone in the press box burst into laughter. It is often said that Pakistan should rediscover the spirit of cornered tigers. Well, Jamshed is currently fielding like a real one.

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