Thursday, April 05, 2007

Now who said cricket was boring?

Listening to: 'Find Your Way' by Ryan Cabrera [You Stand Watching]

I can't not comment on yesterday's match. The day started off with England the underdogs by far...even the English fans had given up any hope of them putting up a fight. The journalistic previews were very pro-Sri Lanka (as in this article on cricinfo)- they seemed to have elevated the Lankan boys to dizzy heights that were, to be honest, too oxygen-deficient for my liking. My grandmother would've said the words reeked of evil mouth (kata vaha, for the Sinhala speakers amongst you)...and retrospectively, I'd be hesitant to disagree.

OK, so we lost the toss. That's luck, and as that same luck would have it, we were asked to do what we've been doing this entire tournament (slight cause for concern here - will we be able to chase effectively, if and when the need arises?) - bat first. Personally I thought we were doing OK - not brilliantly, but it definitely wasn't hopeless against some pretty decent bowling and fielding by a rejuvenated English side (maybe the arrival of the WAGs was what was in order?). And then Dilshan got run out...and in the fashion that I've sadly started to expect from our boys, the final 5 wickets fell for 20 runs. Why do we seem unable to capitalise on a good foundation and finish what the top order started?!?!?!? You'd think the tail (who can bat, mind you) would want to give themselves a decent score to bowl at.

Anyway, fast forward to the England innings. End of the 6th over, 12/2 - could it be better? Don't bet on it, said the scoreboard, with Pietersen and Bell taking England to 100/2 after 25. And then luck decided to make an appearance, and bounce Bell's bat off the ground just as the ball hit the!

Fast forward (yes, again) to the end of the 34th over - 134/6. 102 off 16 overs, with the last two recognised batsmen (both facing Sri Lanka for the first time) at the crease...someone start the party! Oh wait, captain Mahela seems to want England to regain some lost pride. Defensive tactics from "the neutral's favourite" and some less than amazing bowling from Murali the Maestro (pleeeeease let him not be injured!) resulted in Nixon and Bopara requiring 19 off 12. Not impossible, but not easy. Malinga bowls...

1, 1, 0, 1, W,...what's this...changing the ball?!?!?!

It may just be my lack of cricketing knowledge, but who on Earth can justify changing the ball in the 49th over?!?! Say bye-bye to reverse-swing Mali...sixth ball goes for 4.

By now my palms are sweaty, and my fingers are digging into the knee of the poor soul seated next to me...some of my friends are turning away from the screen, and I can hear a faint "I don't like this game anymore". The English are biting their nails too. Add that to the fact that I really needed the can imagine the tension!

...Dilhara bowling the last over, there's nothing much anyone can do (except for Mahela, who could've at least tried to put some pressure on the batsmen!?!?!) except watch 9 runs come off the first 5 balls. And then the short of a boundary required off the final ball, England's new wonderboy Bopara facing. Dilhara runs to bowl, and he...he...doesn't bowl. Nerves or tactic? Cheeky tactic, methinks...aimed at reading the batsman's intentions. Sportsmanship is questionable, but then so was the decision to change the ball in the 49th over - shit happens. Poor Bopara wasn't experienced enough to guess what Dilhara was trying to do, and got bowled on the last ball of the innings, bringing to an end, a very courageous innings by the newbie. Looks like luck had the last say afterall.

In closing? Amazing comeback by England. Sorry, amazing comeback by Nixon and Bopara. While in my humble opinion, England will not give Australia a run for their money on Sunday...neither will we on the 16th, if we continue with this despicable defensive gameplan. We have a must-win game against New Zealand on the 12th, and I'm not looking forward to it. Attack, Mahela...attack! We're good enough. Bloody hell we're good enough to get to the final, if only our boys can maintain some momentum throughout 50 overs! Bottom order collapses while batting, Middle over snoozes while fielding...this isn't the stuff champions are made of!?!?!?! C'MON BOYS!!! We can do better. We want to hear the lions roar, not purr.

Amid all this confusion, the English media has given up on Andrew "Fredalo" Flintoff and Kevin "I came to England 'cos I have no chance of getting into the South African side" Pietersen and decided to big up Ravi "Essex boy" Bopara. The boy's played 5 matches in his career so far...maybe wait a little before you call him the next big thing?

P.S.- Apologies for the in-depth match report. I still haven't fully recovered...hopefully this post will help me sleep well tonight.

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