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June 14, 2009
Tough player of the day
Niall O'Brien had turned his ankle during the group game against Bangladesh and missed playing against India. He aggravated it again today when he set off for a single from the non-striker's end and stopped suddenly to turn back. His ankle buckled and he slipped to the ground. Despite the pain he scrambled back to his crease and made his ground before the throw came in. O'Brien continued batting after the physio attended to him, hobbling between the wickets during an innings that kept Ireland's hopes of an upset alive.
Unorthodox shot of the day
Niall comes across as a tough cricketer and a cheeky one too. He was in pain but that didn't prevent him from playing audacious shots against Sri Lanka's most dangerous bowlers. He wasn't content with merely reverse-sweeping Ajantha Mendis, he reverse-pulled him and the ball nearly carried all the way for six. He attempted the high-risk shot against the wiles of Muttiah Muralitharan as well but got only a single.
Missed opportunity of the day
It's not often that a minnow has the opportunity to bowl out a stronger side but Ireland had that chance today. They had Sri Lanka on 140 for 9 with one ball to play. Mendis hit it high in the air towards long-off, Kevin O'Brien saw the chance and sprinted in from the boundary. He could have played safe and conceded only a single by fielding the ball but he dived full length in an attempt to take the catch. The ball fell short and bounced past him towards the boundary. Had he caught it, Alex Cusack would have become only the second bowler to take a five-for in Twenty20 internationals after Umar Gul's effort at The Oval. Cusack finished with 4 for 18.
Edgy starter of the day
Tillakaratne Dilshan is a bundle of energy. He's always up to something: moving around the crease, scooping the ball over the wicketkeeper, or running frantically between the wickets. Today he was so keen to get going he was nearly run out off the first ball but the fielder at square leg mis-fielded. Not wanting to waste any more time, Dilshan pulled the next one but the ball went straight up in the air and landed in Niall's gloves.
Early scare of the day
Shortly after Dilshan's wicket, Niall took a sharp catch to get rid of Kumar Sangakkara. Sri Lanka were 14 for 2 and their score of 28 after six overs was the second lowest Powerplay aggregate of the tournament, after England's 25 against South Africa. Enter Mahela Jayawardene who scored 21 out of the 27 runs Sri Lanka made in the next two overs with a combination of deft touches and powerful shots.
First six of the day …
… wasn't hit until the third ball of the eleventh over. Jayawardene moved dangerously across his stumps to the medium-pace of Cusack, got down on one knee, and swept the ball over the backward square leg boundary, where it was caught by a person in the crowd. There was little power in the stroke, just pure timing.
Expected delivery of the day
Two consecutive yorkers from Lasith Malinga had scorched past the defences of Trent Johnston and Andre Botha and crashed into the stumps. Sangakkara did not bring in any extra catchers for the hat-trick ball. In fact he barely changed the field at all. Cusack knew what was coming at him and braced himself. And when Malinga's third consecutive yorker arrived, homing on to the base of middle and leg stump, Cusack was able to edge the ball past his stumps.
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