West Indies v Australia, Super Eights, Antigua March 27, 2007

The big hits and the misses



Ricky Ponting took a risky single not anticipating Ramnaresh Sarwan's accuracy at hitting the stumps © Getty Images

Suspicious starter of the Day
By the time Matthew Hayden had faced 18 deliveries in his last match against South Africa at St Kitts he had boshed his way to 32 not out with three fours and two sixes. Today, on a virgin pitch at Antigua's brand-new stadium, it took him that many balls to dribble his first run, a cagey steer behind point. It was a deceptive beginning, however. By the time he'd gauged the pace and bounce of the pitch and clobbered the highest Australian score in World Cup history, few could recall its humble beginnings.

Misjudgment of the Day Mark 1
Ricky Ponting was looking ominously set, as he pretty much always does, when he poked one into the covers and set off for a tight, though not entirely suicidal, single. Waiting for him, however, was none other than Ramnaresh Sarwan, who picked up in an instant and pinged down the stumps at the non-striker's end. Ponting was gone for 35 from 36 balls, and Australia's momentum had been stunted at a crucial juncture.

Misjudgment of the Day Mark 2
But the next time Sarwan clearly felt that Antigua's boundaries were quite big enough. Standing ten yards in from the ropes at long-off, he was nutmegged, David Seaman-style, by a rare miscued drive from Hayden on 109. He leapt backwards but failed to get even a fingertip to the ball, and gestured that the ball had gone for six, perhaps to save face as much as anything else. In fact the shot had dipped late and bounced six inches inside the rope. Had he been right back to start with, who knows what would have happened?

Catch of the Day
Nothing much could stem Hayden's march, and in the final ten overs, he demonstrated that short boundaries were only a partial excuse for all the six-hitting that went on at St Kitts. His slap over long-on off Jerome Taylor was a beauty - a shot that managed to be both high and flat at the same time. And yet ... positioned in the deep, 15 rows back in the top tier of the grandstand, an Aussie fan (it always is ...) leapt out of his seat and back-flipped his way to a remarkable one-handed pluck. He didn't even let go of the beer in his other hand (as it always is...).

Let-off of the Day
By the time the drizzle eased with just under two hours of play still possible, the word doing the rounds in the stadium was that we were all set for a 20-over slog fest. Duckworth and Lewis had decided on a target of 163, a figure which may have been justified by the old rule of thumb that you take your score after 30 overs and double it, but in this era of Twenty20 cricket it was generous in the extreme. In the end, the rain rolled in to leave Australia quite content with their day's work.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo