Plays of the Day April 12, 2007

The old firm of V and M and sagging Kiwi shoulders



The veteran bludgeoner was at his belligerent best © Getty Images

Innings of the Day
Scott Styris held New Zealand together with another mighty effort - his unbeaten 111 was his fourth sizeable contribution in six outings this World Cup, and he was one of the few non-Bond bowlers to keep a lid on the run-rate when his turn came to bowl. But today, as with so many days in this tournament, belonged to the oldest bat-swinger in town. Sanath Jayasuriya has scored higher and faster in his 386-match career, but this was an initiative-seizing innings par excellence. He was clobbered on the shoulder by Bond's third delivery but responded with a whistling cut through point, and when Mark Gillespie entered for his first bowl of the tournament his first over was marmalised for 17, including a first-ball heave into the square-leg stands.

Fielding of the Day
It was the sixth over of New Zealand's innings, and just six tortuous runs had been gleaned for the loss of two wickets. Chaminda Vaas seemed to be bending the ball around corners and there was no respite for the batsman ... until Vaas dropped short and Styris latched onto a fierce cut. Tillekaratne Dilshan at point, however, saw the ball all the way and pounced at full stretch to prevent a certain four runs. It was an unequivocal statement of intent from Sri Lanka. "Fielders need to raise their game above the expected levels," said Kumar Sangakkara in the build-up to the match. This was a fine, initiative-seizing, example.

Non-fielding of the Day
Whereas the Sri Lankans hustled and harried at every opportunity, New Zealand's much-hyped outfit had a peculiarly poor day. Chances went begging, most notably to Stephen Fleming and Craig McMillan, while Jacob Oram summed up the rustiness on display when he nutmugged himself on the fine-leg boundary and gifted Sanath Jayasuriya yet another boundary. Shane Bond held onto an impressive back-pedalling effort at third man, but in previous fixtures such excellence would have been the norm, not the exception.

Celebrity of the Day
Given that his US$4million-dollar holiday home lies a mere Lear-Jet-ride away on the island of Mustique in the Grenadines, it was no great surprise to spot that most A-list of cricket afficionadoes, Mick Jagger, in the stands today. This was, after all, an A-list contest to savour, even if New Zealand put in a performance that was more Keith Richards than Viv Richards. Still, it could have been worse. Jagger might have been in Barbados to watch England's dire showing yesterday. (Cue endless gags about gettin' no satisfaction, and so on.)

Absentee of the Day
So much had been made of Lasith Malinga's pace, panache and unpredictability, but in the event he was barely given a second thought by the Sri Lankans. Their threat in this competition stems from the depth and variety of their bowling resources, and with the old firm of Murali and Vaas revelling in an opportunity to hog the limelight, the remainder of the attack trundled through their quota with scarcely a shot played in anger against them. When New Zealand's turn came, however, it was like a throwback to the Hadlee era - Shane Bond was peerless once again, but once he'd gone wicketless, the remainder were powerless.

Powerplay of the Day
Maybe it's a Grenadan thing. Two days after Brian Lara set a new record in calling for his third and final Powerplay in the 45th over, Stephen Fleming went one better, and delayed his until the 46th. In theory it wasn't such a bad move - Sri Lanka needed just one run to win so the entire field had to be crowded around the bat anyway. But Gillespie's first delivery was misdirected and clipped for four, to end the both the latest and the shortest set of fielding restrictions possible.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo