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September 4, 2009
Fielding won New Zealand the first Twenty20 international two nights ago, and Sri Lanka's effort in the first innings ultimately proved decisive. Four instances stood out. Brendon McCullum received a life, on 13 off all numbers, when Tillakaratne Dilshan pounced on the ball at backward point but failed to hit the stumps. When Jesse Ryder got a similar chance on Wednesday he nailed it to dismiss Mahela Jayawardene and trigger an infamous collapse.
For the second game running, Ryder drove the ball back down the pitch to Nuwan Kulasekara and so nearly handed McCullum another unlucky run-out. But this time the bowler wasn't as sharp and instead of getting a hand down, Kulasekara stuck a leg out. The ball dribbled to the on side as McCullum scrambled to get back, his heart no doubt pounding.
Later, McCullum drove the ball back and it hit the non-striker's stumps but a diving Kulasekara couldn't make contact with the ball, with Ryder way out of his crease. Further on, Ajantha Mendis misfielded one because he didn't get the angle right. Instead of running around the ball in the deep, Mendis went straight at it and was five yards from the boundary when he was beaten and gave up four.
The inside scoop
An assortment of new strokes has been developed to counter restrictive field placing - the reverse-sweep, the switch-hit, the scoop, and the ramp - with the expected response of amplified bowling varieties. Over the last couple months, one such shot has been all the rage but few have pulled it off as well as its most famous advocate. Tonight, it was McCullum who attempted the scoop trademarked by Tillakaratne Dilshan, with a little help from Kumar Sangakkara's helmet. Nuwan Kulasekara pitched the ball up outside off stump, McCullum reached out and paddled it, losing control of the handle, and the ball ricocheted flush off Sangakkara's helmet for four. It will be interesting to see how successfully this shot is adopted, and what fielding sides will do to if catches on.
We've been waiting, Baz …
Sangakkara rotated four slow bowlers between the sixth and 16th overs, and of them Dilshan took a bit of stick from McCullum, who returned to form with a stroke-filled 49. One effortless swing for six, off Dilshan, snapped a run of 11 boundary-less deliveries by McCullum. It was his 100th boundary shot in Twenty20 internationals and took his six tallies to 27, just three behind Yuvraj Singh's record.
Age no bar
Sanath Jayasuriya hasn't done a lot lately but tonight he chipped in with the ball, taking 2 for 22 in four overs. His first two overs went for 12, though with just one boundary, and his next two included two big wickets. First he cut off a marauding McCullum one short of a half-century, getting him to pop a catch back, to send the crowd into a tizzy. Then, after a four-over break and a change of ends, he delivered a big blow by having Ross Taylor adjudged lbw when missing a slog. Then, in the final over, he moved around to his left at point to save runs. What did that 'Sunscreen' speech say about 40-year olds?
Pain and gain
Batsmen have had their share of worries dealing with Lasith Malinga's yorkers, but tonight Jacob Oram handled a couple accurate ones in the last over. To the first, honing in on middle stump, Oram opened the face of the bat to manufacture four wide of Sangakkara. The third time Malinga hurled down a yorker, an overconfident Oram went for a paddle of all shots and missed out, instead inside-edging into his midriff and groaning in discomfort. But what's a little pain when you have managed to survive and score off corking yorkers?
Bond, Shane Bond
Revenge is a dish best served cold, goes the old saying, and Shane Bond had his against a hot-headed Dilshan. On Wednesday, bowling his first over at this level after nearly two years, Bond was thumped for four successive fours by Dilshan. Tonight he got Dilshan for 1. The batsman charged down the track and miscued Bond's fifth delivery to a perfectly positioned Martin Guptill at deep square leg. Bond erupted in celebration. It had been a long time since we saw that.
Beware the brothers McCullum
Eleven for 3 was hardly and ideal start for Sri Lanka, but a terrific 11th over bowled by Nathan McCullum, who in ten Twenty20 internationals has proven himself one of the more promising spinners around, proved the killer blow. Mahela Jayawardene was well held on the third ball, attempting to sweep, by Jesse Ryder at short fine leg and Angelo Mathews whipped the sixth straight to midwicket. One McCullum had kicked open the door and the other barged in.
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