Tamim crushes India's hopes

ESPNcricinfo staff
Gibbs knows his boundaries. Malinga shakes up South Africa

Tamim takes on the big boys, Bangladesh v India, Port-of-Spain
This was no David slaying Goliath, simply a case of a weaker team playing to its potential and a strong team failing to keep to its standards.

Rahul Dravid's decision to bat, with the world's best batting line-up - on paper at least - and with Bangladesh lacking a Holding or a Thomson, was a fair call. What India did not have was respect - for the opposition, for the conditions, or for the game. Some batsmen, when out of form, find a variety of ways to be dismissed. Virender Sehwag is the opposite - no matter whom he is facing, in whatever conditions, he gets out in similar fashion. Robin Uthappa, who should have taken the chance to cement his place, whacked a wide one into point's hands as though it was a Sunday afternoon club game.

Where the inadequacy of one team ended, the beauty of the other came to the fore, making this a game of two halves. We had only barely heard of a 17-year-old called Tamim Iqbal; they said he was the hardest hitter of a cricket ball in Bangladesh. Often that isn't saying much; on the day, it said everything.

With poise, balance and hand-speed reminiscent of a young Saeed Anwar, Tamim drove on the up with panache and precision. One ball summed it up. After an early assault, Zaheer Khan, unsure what to do, went round the stumps. Tamim waltzed down the pitch, saw Zaheer adjust his length, cleared his mind, and without the slightest doubt dismissed the ball into the stands over long-on.

If Tamim was Bangladesh's child prodigy, Mushfiqur Rahim was the wise old boy of 18, calming the nerves, not looking at the scoreboard and thinking of celebrations, but playing one ball at a time.

India fought, for sure, making Bangladesh work for their win. But it was the erstwhile minnows who fought the good fight.

Hersch does a Sobers, Netherlands v South Africa, St Kitts
Midway through the 30th over, from the hapless Dan van Bunge, it was clear Herschelle Gibbs was going for a record that had always been considered elusive. The fact that the opponents were pushovers was offset by a whiskey company's million-dollar challenge to anyone who could hit six sixes in an over. The company in question, Johnnie Walker, apparently encouraged the players in the tournament to "know their boundaries".

In a colourful career that had encompassed match-fixing scandals, racism charges, dropping the 1999 World Cup, and dope-smoking, Gibbs had certainly crossed many more boundaries than the sixes he hit in that over.

They weren't miscues by any stretch of the imagination, but conventional shots they were not. Smears one and all, over long-off, long-on and midwicket, it was arguably some of the most reckless driving ever seen on a cricket pitch. "If the ball presents itself, I'll try everything," he said later. "I was lucky the straight boundaries were quite small but the six sixes was a bonus, it was just nice to get a hit in the middle. The message came out that Jacques Kallis and I could have a dip, and we probably had a bigger dip than was needed. After the fourth one, I thought it could be on. I thought about using my feet and coming down the pitch, but then I changed my mind and decided to stay in the crease. The idea was for me to have another two goes at it [the record] and luckily I didn't miscue any of them, so it was quite nice." It was thrilling and ferocious stuff, and the only pity is that barely 1000 spectators were in the ground to witness it.

Four in four, South Africa v Sri Lanka, Providence
South Africa were four runs away from sealing a comfortable win in the 45th over of their chase when Lasith Malinga imposed himself on a virtually lost cause, in a manner rarely accomplished by bowlers. The fifth ball of the over was a straight and true slower delivery that sent Shaun Pollock's leg stump jumping jack flash into the air. Next ball, Andrew Hall dug out a yorker - straight into the hands of the man in the covers. The 46th over yielded a single, and put Jacques Kallis on strike to face Malinga's hat-trick ball.

Surely Kallis, rock-steady as Table Mountain itself, on 86, should have ended it. Only, he did not. In came Malinga and out went Kallis, square-driving an edge to the wicketkeeper. Malinga rocketed into the sky with a yawp, mad pom-pom of hair all abounce in his inimitable style. Makhaya Ntini didn't really know what was going on until he was doing the Harlem shuffle all the way back to the hut, yorked by Malinga's next delivery.

Four in four. Nine down. Still three to get. Chaminda Vaas bowled a maiden.

Malinga scorched in to Robin Peterson, who looked like he had been woken by a bright light. Swing and a miss. Dot ball.

In came Malinga again. Peterson threw his bat at a ball pitched outside off stump as if he was trying very hard not to hit a hand grenade. But he did - only just, and the edge scooted to third man. South Africa managed to win a game that they had no business losing anyway, but Malinga had so nearly pulled a Houdini on them.