ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, World Cup 2011, Colombo
Malinga's magic and Ryder's Leverock moment
Plays of the day from the 1st semi-final between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Colombo
Firdose Moonda in Colombo
March 29, 2011
The corker yorker
Lasith Malinga was always going to target the toes of the New Zealand batsmen and the delivery he got Martin Guptill out on was the most attractive yorker of the lot. It was a perfect inswinging ball that would have taken exemplary defence and the ability to the bat down at just the right moment to keep out. Guptill didn't time it badly, but he didn't time it perfectly and that was what made the difference. He was properly corked, the stumps were out of the ground and Malinga's poison had worked.
The first and the last
He was far from a fully fit man and even thought he was hobbling, the crowd were ecstatic when Muttiah Muralitharan came on to bowl. It would be his last match on Sri Lankan soil and every ball was cheered. The anticipation for a wicket grew with every ball and after two overs, it came. The ball received a thin edge off Jesse Ryder's bat and found itself nestled in Kumar Sangakkara's gloves and the stadium stood up. Every fan was off their feet, every pair of hands was being slapped together, ever face was smiling, as though they never wanted his spell to end. A few hours later, it had to. Murali lined up to bowl his last ball in ODI cricket for his country and it caught Scott Styris on the pad. The decision was reviewed but it was upheld and Murali sauntered off the home stage with a wicket. The clapping was thunderous and the smiles were huge, the biggest smile came from the man himself.
The fabulous fielding
Sri Lanka lived up to their reputation of being the best subcontinental fielding side at the tournament with a committed display of groundwork. Tillakaratne Dilshan, in his white floppy hat at mid-off, was one of the best. He pounced on balls that were played awkwardly to him, stopping singles when he could easily have let the batsmen hurry through. Off an over from Rangana Herath, the 39th of New Zealand's innings, Dilshan did it three times, all athletically, all saving one.
The Leverock moment
He is not quite as heavy as Dwayne Leverock, but the earth probably still moved when he took the catch that may become the catch of the tournament. Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan were looking comfortable enough for another century stand, the bowlers were getting irritable and the boundary balls were mounting. Tim Southee bowled one, short, wide and cuttable and Tharanga obliged. Up went the ball, but only as far the leaping Ryder. He was at full strength, poised like a ballerina and he times his move perfectly. Thud. He was back down to earth, ball in hand, wicket claimed.
The effortless boundary
Which one? Dilshan and Sangakkara were feasting off the fours at will and looked as though once they'd decided which shot to play, they'd play it no matter what or who was in their way. Dilshan was doing it with almost no care in the world and when Daniel Vettori put two gullies on the offside, he didn't care. Dilshan drilled the ball between the both of them, timed so well that neither would have got to it if they'd move, so it's probably just as well they didn't.
As the middle order marched one by one to the crease, the feeling in the Premadasa Stadium become more and more nervy. Then, Chamara Silva had an audacious attempt at cutting a short ball and in his haste found a bottom edge on to his stumps. Tim Southee's toothy grin said that New Zealand knew they were putting up enough of a fight. The stillness of the crowd said it even louder. The singing, dancing, cheering masses went eerily quiet, but not for long.
The premature ending
Sri Lanka still needed four runs to win the match when a fireworks display started around the stadium. The last two overs had to be bowled with the sound of firework going off all around and it proved a distraction, in more ways than one. Umpire Aleem Dar called a dead ball before Andy McKay delivered the first ball of the 48th over, which neither McKay, nor Thilan Samaraweera saw. McKay bowled, Samaraweera sent it through the covers for four and started celeDbrating but was stopped by Dar's signal. The players looked perplexed, thinking the match was over but it wasn't. Four balls later, it was. And the fireworks went mad.
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