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Plays of the day from the third ODI between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Dambulla
Andrew Fidel Fernando in Dambulla
November 16, 2013
Virender Sehwag may be finding it tough to find a place in the India side, but Sehwagologists the world over may be glad to know some still keep the faith. When James Neesham pitched one fractionally short and wide in the penultimate over, a flat-footed Herath transferred his weight back and half-drove, half-cut the ball powerfully in between two point fielders for four, in perfect left-hand imitation of the India opener. Next ball, though, he aimed a huge heave across the line off a short ball and missed by a distance; he was back to being Herath again.
The fatal innovation
The line between inspired strokeplay and a rash shot is often in the execution for international batsmen, and Mahela Jayawardene has often made that plain in his limited-overs career. Having surged sublimely to 46 off 45 balls, Jayawardene went down on one knee to Nathan McCullum and attempted to scoop the bowler over his shoulder. He picked the right ball for the stroke, and would have been well-rewarded had he connected properly, but instead the ball hit the top of the bat and lobbed up for a simple catch to the wicketkeeper.
The merciful strike
Playing his first international cricket since January, Rob Nicol needed a good series to regain his place in the team for New Zealand's home summer, but he had almost as poor a result as is possible in his two completed innings. He had been out first ball in the second ODI, and was awful against the seam bowlers in Dambulla, having scored just one run in his first 12 deliveries. Herath put him out of his misery off his first ball to the batsman - though it wasn't without Nicol's help. Herath flighted one up and landed it just short of a length, and in his desperation to reach the pitch of the ball, Nicol reached too far. When the ball spun past his bat, he had dragged his back foot well out of the crease, leaving the wicketkeeper with a simple stumping.
After much had been made of Sri Lanka's spinners' ineffectiveness with a wet ball in Hambantota, it was Herath and Sachithra Senanayake who did most to ensure their team won in Dambulla. No moment summed epitomised their importance to the match more perfectly thank Luke Ronchi's wicket in the 19th over. Herath pushed tossed one up wide of the batsman and got a little extra bounce, drawing a top edge from his cut, and Senanayake at backward point swooped forward and threw himself forward to pluck the ball close to the ground. An equally brilliant turn from each player had pushed Sri Lanka's cause further.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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