South Africa v Sri Lanka, Super Eights, Guyana

Malinga's hat-trick and South Africa's edge

Dileep Premachandran in Guyana

March 28, 2007

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Lasith Malinga shook South Africa hard with his four wickets in four balls © Getty Images

Where dem hats?
Charl Langeveldt didn't get his chance, picking up wickets four and five with the last two balls of his spell, while Muttiah Muralitharan was denied by Justin Kemp deflecting one off the pad to short leg. Lasith Malinga though got it right, even if it was hat-trick interruptus. Shaun Pollock was cleaned up by a slower ball - by Malinga's standards anyway - and Andrew Hall lobbed the last ball of his eighth over to cover. Chaminda Vaas gave up a single to Kallis in the next over, and after a toe-touch and stretch, Malinga ran in to spear one outside off stump. Kallis went for it, got the edge, and tried to con the umpire by standing there. No cigar. Hat-trick for Malinga, and it got even better a ball later.

Anything coach can do
Chamara Silva's judgement of a run wasn't quite the best, but few were prepared for what followed. Herschelle Gibbs picked up the ball and started to sprint to the stumps, with Silva only slightly quicker to turn than the QE II. Within range, and with Silva comfortably adrift of the crease, Gibbs dived into the stumps like a rugby winger over the try-line. Up in the players' balcony, a fielding coach was watching. His name? Jonty Rhodes.

Oranges are not the only fruit?
You hear of peaches, but it was a Jaffa that Vaas came up with early in the South African innings. Pitched outside the line of off stump, it had AB de Villiers poking forward hesitantly. He never had a chance. The ball jagged back so sharply that it brushed the pad on its way to clipping the top of middle stump.

Bring it on
No matter how awry his direction may be at times, Malinga rarely compromises on pace. His thunderbolts were expected to play a major part in Sri Lanka's campaign, but thus far it hadn't quite gone to plan. Having already got some tap from Graeme Smith, he hurled one down at 88.2 mph. Another foot further, and it might have been the perfect yorker. As it was, it was right in Smith's hitting zone, and the ball raced to the sightscreen even before Malinga had uncoiled himself from his follow-through.

An edge will do
By the time Malinga stepped up for his final over, it was time to bring out the Imodium in the South African dressing room. And seldom will have an outside edge been celebrated quite like it was when Robin Peterson just about managed to get bat to another express delivery. The ball streaked to third man and Peterson demolished the stumps at the bowlers' end in celebration, leaving Sri Lanka to ponder their own late collapse.

Race ya to the crease: Herschelle Gibbs dives rugby try-style to run out Chamara Silva © AFP

Plastic eyesore
It's easy for an outsider to watch on TV and pass judgement on the abysmal crowds at some of these World Cup games. This was the first match to be played at a new stadium, and a near-full house might have been expected. But when the cheapest seats in the house cost US$25 (5000 Guyanese dollars) - those on the grassy mound, which was fairly full - and the next lot cost either US$75 or 100, you can't really blame the average Guyanese for staying away. The three big stands were largely huge swathes of shiny plastic, and if such eyesores are to be avoided, the ICC and the local organisers need to take a long hard look at prices that would put a tout to shame. For the record, 5,220 trooped through the gates.

Seen and heard
As the wickets tumbled, the few South African in the stands and the media enclosure looked dazed. Cricket's consummate chokers have crumbled under pressure before, and there was a certain macabre thrill in witnessing the latest episode. Perhaps it was appropriate that a fringe player hit the winning runs, instead of those who have been there and choked that.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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