What might have been? Malinga almost pulled it out of the fire for Sri Lanka. The Cricinfo commentary says it all. For your enjoyment, it is below but first, let me set the scene. South Africa are 5-205 needing 210 runs for victory. That’s 5 runs with 5 wickets in hand. Balls remaining are not a consideration. Easy, right? But what’s this, the old ball is swinging and Shaun Pollock is gagging on his lunch.
44.5 Malinga to Pollock, OUT, BINGO! Finally Malinga strikes, that is a superb bit of bowling. It’s a slower ball on the stumps, Pollock just does not pick it, plays inside the line of the ball and loses his leg stump. Even with the game all but gone Sri Lanka are fighting. Pollock played a good hand but now he’s gone!
SM Pollock b Malinga 13 (23m 24b 1×4 0x6) SR: 54.16
44.6 Malinga to Hall, OUT, ANOTHER! Andrew Hall goes off the very first ball! It’s another speared-in yorker, Hall just about manages to dig it out, but he can’t keep the ball down …. it bobs up into the air for the man at cover to pouch easily! Is there a twist left in this game
AJ Hall c Tharanga b Malinga 0 (2m 1b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00
Malinga on a hat-trick. What a funny little game this has been.
46.1 Malinga to Kallis, OUT, Would you believe it? Malinga has got the hat-trick! Full, furious, outside off stump, Kallis goes for a square-drive and nicks it behind. Loud appeal. Kallis stays rooted. Even louder appeal and Harper raises the fatal finger. SA eight down and choking real badly.
JH Kallis c Sangakkara b Malinga 86 (187m 110b 4×4 0x6) SR: 78.18
46.2 Malinga to Ntini, OUT, And then they were one! Malinga gets four in four. Unbelievable! Screaming yorker and Ntini drives, plays all over it and ball crashes into the middle stump. Malinga is slinging down magic deliveries and SA are nine down.
M Ntini b Malinga 0 (2m 1b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00
46.3 Malinga to Langeveldt, no run, beaten Just kissed past the off stump. Tremendous nerves out there. Full and just outside off, yorker-length, Langeveldt pokes at it and gets beaten
A double hat trick! For those of you are wondering, I heard Tong Greig say rather disparagingly “That is what the Australians call a double hat trick.” In case you are still wondering, the thinking is that wickets 1-3 are a hat trick and so are 2-4. Whatever you call, it is incredible – four wickets in four balls. That third ball of the of the 47th over really did miss by a coat of varnish. Just as well too, because I have no idea what you call five wickets in five balls. Just as well for the South Africans, as well. That would have been curtains.
It was a match of short innings, featuring four golden ducks. Charl Langeveldt bowled a triple wicket maiden. Not bad either.
But enough of that excitement. Australia has shot to the top of the Super 8s by crushing the West Indies. With two of the four “carry over champs” losing their first super eight matches, the field is levelling rapidly.
And now let me pay tribute to the Man Mountain. In just six matches, he has assembled a rare trilogy. Let me list them:
181 not out v New Zealand. Highest ODI score by an Australian
101 v South Africa. Fastest hundred in a World Cup and fastest by an Australian in any ODI
158 v West Indies. Highest World Cup score by an Australian.
It is interesting that the 158 mirrors his 181 in the slow start and late explosion. The 158 effort required 19 balls to get off the mark. Hayden went ballistic from 100 to 150. I still reckon not scoring for 18 balls is three overs wasted. It’s a big risk to make it up later.
And a couple of posers: Is Symonds position guaranteed? Of course, he’s the first picked usually. He has rushed back from injury and while he looks fully recovered, his bowling has been very ordinary and he has not looked great with the bat. He deserves a couple more matches but it doesn’t seem right to drop Hodge, in great form for a big name if Symonds can’t perform.
Should Gillie bat down the order? The truth is that Gillie is not what he used to be and he struggles against the movement of the new ball. Perhaps it is time for him to move down the order and come after the shine has worn off and the field is back. Gillie can smack the ball around with the field back and Australia might get more benefit from him. Watson did well enough at the top and a left hand/right hand combination would be of great benefit.
Also note that in the last two matches, Australia was sent in and scored well over three hundred. They then easily defended it. Perhaps the other captains might have a re-think. And by the way, Australia has (easily) surpassed 300 on six consecutive occasions (and lost two of those) – the first time that has been done.