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December 18, 2007
Captaincy decision of the day
The pitch conditions were a lottery, but Michael Vaughan knew without doubt that it was going to be baking hot. So what's a captain to do at the toss? It's a must-win match and England need 20 wickets, so Vaughan put his faith in the early moisture in the wicket, and sent Sri Lanka in to bat. Ryan Sidebottom's first delivery implied it was a pretty good decision, but until Steve Harmison's evening intervention, things went a touch flat - not surprising, given the brutality of the heat. Vaughan would probably have preferred to lose the toss and let Mahela Jayawardene do the agonising.
Umpiring decision of the day
Matthew Hoggard's sixth over, and Kumar Sangakkara's tenth ball. A full-length outswinger tempts an indiscreet drive, and the ball whistles through to Matt Prior's gloves. England's reaction is instant and unanimous - they are convinced they've got their man. Sangakkara is equally vociferous, however - he shouts a loud "No!" and shakes his head emphatically as the appeal goes up. Sangakkara did walk for one during the one-day series, which may or may not have swayed umpire Harper's opinion, but England were apoplectic as he turned down their petitions. Replays, however, remained inconclusive - even the snickometer couldn't say for sure.
Catch of the day
What goes through Monty Panesar's mind when he circles under a steepling catch? We can hazard a fair guess. Terror, excitement, impending remorse, a prayer or two as well. Ever since his howler on debut at Nagpur last March, those three or four seconds of hang-time are among the most anxious in the game - for Monty, for his team-mates, and for the batsman, on this occasion Sangakkara. He steadied himself with a bend of the knees that looked uncannily like Jonny Wilkinson's penalty squat, the ball plopped into his cupped hands with a palm-reddening splat, and then he was off, celebrating with a gusto that no-one in the game can match.
Drop of the day
Paul Collingwood's clanger at second slip. It didn't actually cost England too many runs, as Upul Tharanga fell to a marginal lbw five overs later, but in terms of momentum it was untimely to say the least. Harmison had been working up a good head of steam and beat Tharanga with a delivery that climbed sharply outside off. But Collingwood - possibly deceived by the extra carry on this springier Galle pitch - was slow moving to his right and shelled a routine chance.
Shot of the day
Jayawardene is in some pretty prime nick at the moment. His 195 at Colombo was a pretty handy net session, and he was soon back into the groove at Galle. In Harmison's fourth over, he eased forward to a high-kicking good-length delivery and stroked it, on the up, all the way through the covers. Harmison, so taken aback that anyone could do that to such a decent delivery, followed up with a rare and rank half-volley. It went in the same direction, just as quickly.
Delivery of the day
Harmison has relocated his mojo - that's the message we can glean from his wholehearted efforts at Colombo and now Galle. And in doing so, he has found himself something of a walking wicket. All things are relative in such batsman-friendly conditions, but the manner in which Chamara Silva has been dismissed in both games speaks volumes for Harmison's new-found confidence. On both occasions, he's been beaten by off-stump lifters; at Colombo he fenced to gully, and today he squirted to first slip. He was late on the shot on both occasions, hurried by Harmy's harrying style.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala