India Men cheer for India Women, and Mustafizur offers Wahab a lesson
Arun Venugopal: "The Fizz" shows Wahab how it's done
New Zealand v Bangladesh, Kolkata, March 26
In sweaty, sultry Kolkata, New Zealand's batsmen are struggling to crack Bangladesh's bowling on a slow pitch - except Kane Williamson. Standing on the strength of liquids and wet towel scrubs, he has tiptoed to 38 (28 balls) of the team's score of 52. Enter Mustafizur "The Fizz" Rahman. He has conceded two runs off the one over he has bowled so far and has finger-flicked a cutter between Henry Nicholls's flaying bat and leaden foot. Off the third ball of the eighth over, Williamson hops out and redirects the ball towards wide long-off with an inside-out swat. The next delivery is intended to be thumped in a straight line, but Mustafizur is clever enough to shear some pace off to beat him. Williamson reverts to giving himself room, but this cutter is pacier and pings the wicketkeeper's gloves before his bat can find the ball. To counter the extraordinary, Williamson needs to embrace the unorthodox - he deserts the stumps for the lap shot, but Mustafizur has sent down a slower cutter that nudges the off stick. The Fizz's ability to spot the unguarded stumps is particularly impressive after Wahab Riaz doggedly followed Steven Smith all the way to the 15th stump only a day earlier.
Karthik Krishnaswamy: Ashwin's Test-match moment
India v Bangladesh, Bangalore, March 23
Bangladesh need 52 from 48 balls. Shakib Al Hasan, their most seasoned T20 cricketer, has just walloped Ravindra Jadeja for a big six and silenced the Chinnaswamy Stadium. On comes R Ashwin to bowl his final over. He has a slip in place - the situation demands it; the only way India can win this is by taking wickets. His first ball is like so many he has bowled to left-hand batsmen in Test cricket. The whirring ball, delivered from around the wicket, hangs above Shakib's eyeline, drifting into him. It produces a Test-match response, a cautious forward-defensive block. But the ball drops shorter than Shakib expects, spins away from him, kisses his outside edge, and settles in slip's hands.
It is a poetic, format-transcending moment, a high-quality cricketing display in a match more memorable for emotional ups and downs than for displays of cricketing skill. Soumya Sarkar is the next batsman, another left-hander. He is searching for form, and has been demoted from the opening slot to No. 7. He might have edged Ashwin and followed Shakib to the pavilion if he was in better touch; instead, that dipping, ripping offbreak beats him three times in the next four balls.
Shashank Kishore: Mohali, and India Men, cheer for India Women
India Women v West Indies Women, Mohali, March 27
It was the first double-header involving the India women and men's team at home. Sure, the concept was well-received in Australia, but the true test, especially with calls growing louder for a Women's IPL, came in Mohali. A sell-out crowd was expected for the marquee, prime-time India v Australia knockout shootout. Before that, however, Mithali Raj and company were in the middle of a tense clash against West Indies. What started off as a gentle cheer for every boundary saved, or wicket taken, grew into rapturous applause as the game progressed. In the media centre too, there was an element of mystery surrounding a lot of the Indian players. Which state does she represent? What is her highest score? Is she an allrounder? Do India need a pinch-hitter?
Even as curiosity surrounding the players got higher, the fans, who don't always turn up in Mohali like they did on Sunday, were in their element. Chants of "Jhulan, Jhulan" started doing the rounds as soon as Yuvraj Singh, the local hero, egged the crowd on the moment the cameras were panned on him. Then, it was Kohli's turn to join in, as he cupped his hands together and yelled "Indiaaaaa, Indiaaa", only for the crowd to join him. Goswami, a veteran of 16 years, would later say that the atmosphere out there "was something else", one she had rarely experienced in her career. Never mind the result, but Sunday provided a peek into the future. Even though India Women lost by three runs, the disappointment writ large on their faces, they were gracious enough to acknowledge the support and wave back. All of it amounted to a unique experience, not just for the players, but also for the crowd and media personnel, for many of whom, this was an exercise in getting names, roles and much else right about women's cricket.
Andrew Miller: Root stunner seals Sri Lanka's fate
England v Sri Lanka, Delhi, March 26
An unloseable contest was slipping out of England's grasp. Chasing a seemingly out-of-reach 172, Sri Lanka's three-over scoreline of 15 for 4 had been inflated, through the brilliance of Angelo Mathews and his doughty middle order, to an alarm-bell-jangling 155 for 6 in the 19th over. England's spinners had been rinsed, three sixes in each of Adil Rashid's and Moeen Ali's final overs, and now, with 21 runs needed from 11 balls, and with the bit between his teeth, Dasun Shanaka turned his attention to Chris Jordan.
There wasn't a lot wrong with Jordan's second delivery, a pinpoint yorker that Shanaka somehow squirted clean through third man for four. But there was plenty to be desired about the follow-up, a floggable half-volley, too full and too wide to be of use to any cause. Had Shanaka's shot continued its natural trajectory through the long-off boundary, Sri Lanka's requirement would have been 13 from nine balls, the game - and England's campaign - surely over then and there.
But, instead, up surged Joe Root, leaping to his left at mid-off as if his life depended on this moment. With an insanely perfect piece of judgement, he wrapped both hands round the missile while horizontal to the ground, and there - right then - was the moment that knocked Sri Lanka out of the tournament. Ben Stokes's final over applied the finishing touch, but Root's reach had already confirmed that England would not be beaten.
Jarrod Kimber: Camera flashes light up Chandigarh airport
Chandigarh airport is a big pretty barn. It has a sandwich shop, and basically nothing else. But on March 28, it also had Mithali Raj and her India Women's team getting their photographs taken. Then, the Australian men turned up and had their photos taken. Then, the Indian men, who had hundreds more taken. It didn't seem to matter that Chandigarh airport is a defence base, where you are not supposed to take photos. Then, Virat Kohli turned up. There were photographs, but that wasn't enough. Echoing around this big empty space was that familiar chant, "Kohli, Kohli, Kohli".
Andrew Fidel Fernando: Sri Lanka's symbolic crevice
England v Sri Lanka, Delhi, March 26
In the 11th over of England's innings against Sri Lanka, Jason Roy turns a ball from Jeffrey Vandersay towards square leg. Seeing a huge gap in the field there, wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal peels off his glove and tears after it. And two men on the boundary - Milinda Siriwardana and Lahiru Thirimanne - also sprint towards the slowing ball, with purposeful strides and determined expressions. On one of Sri Lanka's previous campaigns, this moment might have stood to showcase the team's dedication, their drive or their unity. They might have hunted the ball down, scooped it up to each other, then bum-patted and high-fived before returning to their fielding positions, full of pep.
But it was not a previous campaign, so all three pulled out at the very last second, leaving the ball to be fielded by no one. It is tempting to suggest this moment was a poignant representation of failure to take responsibility, or lack of communication. But in reality, it was just really funny. Which I guess their whole campaign was, so maybe it was poignant.