Selection of the Day
No Lasith Malinga, no Chaminda Vaas, no Muttiah Muralitharan. No contest. It possibly wasn't the most sporting gesture that's ever been witnessed at a World Cup, but it was hard to quibble with the tactics behind Sri Lanka's high-profile omissions. Australia's ambitions in this World Cup extend beyond mere victory. They wish to trample every opponent into the dust, and to that end, it made sense for Sri Lanka to embrace the role of the underdog, take their licks now, and then unleash their trump cards in the coming days when the stakes are at their highest. In a one-off winner-takes-all encounter, the surprise factor could just make a difference.
Bowler of the Day
Australia, on the other hand, weren't afraid to fluff out their feathers and show their true colours. And today it was that other left-arm opening swing bowler, Nathan Bracken, who out-Vaased Chaminda with a buzzing line and length and four cheap and tidy wickets. With Adam Gilchrist standing up to the stumps as the shine went off the new ball, Bracken was metronomic throughout, conceding just six runs in his middle eight overs, including a rare leg-side wide. He was threaded for two fours in his final over but cleaned up with his fourth wicket of the innings, and 14th of the tournament.
Mixed bag of the Day
Shaun Tait versus Malinga will be a match-up to savour if it ever comes to pass, although today the only contest was between the two facets of Tait's bowling character. His early spells were pretty ordinary and after seven fast, furious but incredibly erratic overs his figures were a ropey 0 for 57 (Bracken's at that stage were a saintly 2 for 9). But then he snapped into life against the lower order, pitching it up and banging it in with equal measure, to finish with a creditable 2 for 68 from ten. Sri Lanka will have watched intently but they won't have learnt a whole lot they couldn't already have guessed.
Innings of the Day
It wasn't the most taxing knock he's ever had, but it was timely nonetheless. Andrew Symonds' opportunities with the bat have been severely limited by the success of Australia's top order, but he helped himself to 63 not out, his third World Cup fifty but his first substantial knock of this tournament. Symonds demonstrated he was seeing the ball alright during a run-a-ball 28 not out against England in Antigua last week, and today he added five more fours and two sixes to the mix. It was one of the major down-sides of Sri Lanka's B-team tactics, although their toothless attack did at least keep poor Michael Hussey cooped up in the pavilion for yet another match.
Trick shot of the Day
It's not often a thick edge through third man results in a lost ball, but that's what Michael Clarke achieved in Australia's run-chase, when he slashed at a wide one from Nuwan Kulasekara. The ball fizzed down to the boundary, through a gap in the advertising hoardings, and rattled its way down a drainage pipe on the edge of the outfield, and off to the Caribbean Sea.
Surprise package of the Day
His four overs of spin made Russel Arnold the eighth most-used Sri Lankan bowler in this World Cup, and when you consider he grabbed the wickets of both Australian openers, it's a fair reflection of the resources at Sri Lanka's disposal. Arnold has now delivered a grand total of 10.1 overs in this tournament, and he's picked up three wickets in that time. And yet, no sooner had he struck than he was out of the attack again. Even the bit-part weapons were being hidden.
Irrelevant Statistical Spot of the Day
Until the start of this match, Tait's career record for ODI batting and fielding was a binary geek's delight. Matches played 11, Innings 1, Not Out 0, Runs 11, Highest Score 11, Average 11.00, Balls faced 10, Strike Rate 110.00, Hundreds 0, Fifties 0, Fours 1, Sixes 1, Catches 1, Stumpings 0. Of course, he's gone and spoiled that for ever by taking part in his 12th match, although for the record, the binary number 1110111111001011000001110 equals 31430158 in standard decimal. Oh dear. For God's sake, bring back Murali and Malinga. We have far too much time on our hands when matches are foregone conclusions ...