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September 2, 2009
Kulasekara plays party-pooper
Brendon McCullum was expected to turn up when the pyjama cricket began, but his Sri Lankan sojourn continued with another poor score. His latest innings lasted all of nine balls and produced nine runs, six of which came via an uppercut six off Lasith Malinga, before Nuwan Kulasekara finger-tipped a drive from Jesse Ryder back onto the nonstriker's stumps. While the Sri Lankans rushed to congratulate Kulasekara, McCullum dropped his head and walked off. At least this time he didn't have himself to blame for a cheap dismissal.
Pace isn't everything
Malinga's second over was crackling, even though every delivery wasn't express pace. With the first ball, full and a bit wide, he beat Ryder's leaden-footed swish. With the second, much slower at 89.2kph, he again beat the bat. The third, on a length, was pushed aerially but into the gap at extra cover for four. The fourth, at 122kph, was a lovely yorker that utterly flummoxed Ryder; having just managed to squeeze bat on ball, he stood in bewilderment even as Martin Guptill urged him for a single. Guptill was forced to defend the fifth. On the sixth, Guptill was fooled by another slower ball and would have had his heart in his mouth as he called for a single to mid-off and looked on as Sanath Jayasuriya missed the stumps by a whisker.
Oh no you don't …
Jayasuriya almost had a wicket fourth ball, when Guptill slogged across the line, not to the pitch of the delivery, and sent the ball way up in the air. But already in place too far in from the ropes, Mathews misjudged the catch and failed to hold on. The ball popped out of his hand and went across the ropes for four. You could have drilled holes through metal with the look Jayasuriya gave his fielder.
Beware the hand of Kulasekara ...
Kulasekara was rested for the second Test, keeping in mind Sri Lanka's heavy limited-overs workload, and on return he reminded everyone of how crucial he is. Having had a hand - literally, in the case of McCullum's dismissal - Kulasekara dismissed Ryder and took two catches off Mathews' bowling in consecutive overs.
Guess who's back?
Malinga's last over, the final of the innings, was a killer. Having foxed Neil Broom first ball with a slower one, Malinga clutched his hair in frustration as Sangakkara lost sight of a swirling skied catch against the glare of the lights. So he hitched up his sweatpants and went back to his mark, and proceeded to eliminate all fielders henceforth. The next ball was a vicious yorker that sent Kyle Mills' middle stump for a walk. The next was another yorker that flattened Daniel Vettori's middle stump. The hat-trick wasn't to be but the crowd didn't mind, clearing their throats to create a tumultuous din.
Welcome back, Bondy
Shane Bond's first delivery at the international level and for his country had everyone rapt in attention. Bond marked out his run-up, took a look at his field, and ran in. The action was still the same. The ball pitched short - Bond grunted as he delivered - and Tillakaratne Dilshan flashed and missed, Peter McGlashan leaped to collect. A promising start? Not quite. The next four deliveries went for four as Dilshan edged a low full toss, smacked one past cover, cracked a length ball between cover and mid-off, and drilled four more off the front foot. The final ball was slow and beat the bat. After waiting nearly two years for this moment, Bond took his cap and shook his head as he moped out to the deep.
... and the hand of Ryder
The earth shook just a bit tonight. Twice. Fielding at backward point, Ryder pulled off two amazing efforts to give New Zealand hope. The first was when he pulled off a thudding stop into the turf at backward point, collected the ball and released a flat throw to the non-striker's end like some cricketing Chuck Yeager. Check, the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene. Then, in the eighth over, Ryder hit the ground diving as he plucked a superb low catch. Check, the wicket of Dilshan.