ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Priceless opening and the upar cut

Plays of the day from Sri Lanka's one-sided encounter against Zimbabwe in Pallekele

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 10, 2011

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Brendan Taylor gets a perpendicular cut away for four, Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup, Pallekele, March 10, 2011
Brendan Taylor landed a series of sweet cover drives... and a 'perpendicular cut' © Associated Press
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The non-opening
Zimbabwe had opened the bowling with Ray Price's left-arm spin in every match of the tournament thus far. Captain Elton Chigumbura said before the match he felt the surface may aid seam bowlers and so today he opened with seamers Chris Mpofu and Tinashe Panyangara. Mpofu's first wasn't bad but Tillekaratne Dilshan smacked 18 off Panyangara's first and the tone was immediately set. As ever, Price came on soon enough and turned out to be the best bowler of the day, going for 46 in nine, with the innings' only maiden.

The dry Spell
Until Upul Tharanga skied Mpofu to cover, Zimbabwe had bowled 78.1 overs across two games - including the ten-wicket loss to New Zealand - without taking a single wicket. They then proceeded to take 6 for 26 in 20 balls, to make up for lost time. Mpofu took three in one over alone.

The upar cut/fly-scoop/perpendicular cut
Even ESPNcricinfo's not quite sure what to make of Brendan Taylor's 'shot'. When he first unveiled it against New Zealand it seemed an instinctive fluke and we called it the fly-scoop. Out it came today, in the fifth over against Lasith Malinga no less. The bouncer was around off-stump this time, but back Taylor leant, waited, and bunted it over the wicketkeeper as if he was putting the final dab of paint onto a masterpiece. We called it the perpendicular cut in BBB commentary but surely it most resembles Virender Sehwag's soft-drink endorsing upar cut?

The opener
Tharanga and Dilshan may both have made hundreds and set a World Cup record but the innings of the day from an opener was Taylor's. The upar cut was a lone concession to modern-day unorthodoxy, for the 72-ball innings was built on technical purity, postcard perfect cover drives, lofts down the ground and grass-shaving sweeps off Muttiah Muralitharan. The end was tame but while it lasted it was a hand any top-flight opener would've been proud of.

The drop
Sri Lanka's fielding unusually touched extremes today. Lasith Malinga was generally awful, dropping Taylor on the third man boundary and letting balls slip through his hands and legs. Muralitharan dropped a sitter at long leg. In between Mahela Jayawardene plucked out a screamer at slip off Dilshan, diving to his left. But the very next ball, he just couldn't get his fingers underneath an edge from Graeme Cramer. Had he done so it would've completed Dilshan's hat-trick.

The atmosphere
Electric throughout as a full house swamped into the Pallekele Stadium and somehow managed to keep themselves amused through another one-sided game in the Group of Dead, Group A. Such was the demand in fact that the gates to the stadium had to be opened an hour earlier than usual in the morning to let everyone in. Give them cricket, any kind of it (involving the home side) and they will come.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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