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South Africa’s Seamers Stifle Sri Lanka
by NT Shiv Kumar
Oct 24, 2006
Shaun Pollock chose this day to personally bury the ghosts of the famous WC 2003 encounter between these two teams – a horrendous miscalculation on the Duckworth Lewis table by SA that tied the game but untied Pollock from the captaincy.

Today, he did everything that an allrounder could possibly contribute for his team to win and keep the hopes alive to be in contention for the last four stage of the tournament. He did some lusty hitting at the death to swell the score to a defendable level, delivered the crucial early blows to stop the Sri Lankans on their tracks, finished his non-stop spell as miserly as he did during his best days and did Jhonty Rhodes proud when he went horizontal to swoop on the stumps to effect the run out of Jayewardene.

That pretty much was curtains for the Sri Lankans though Dilshan and the Sri Lankan commentator Ranjith Fernando kept the sinking spirits up with a combination of front foot drives and foot in the mouth entertainment. There will be no bigger support for Pakistan than from the Sri Lankan camp whose hopes squarely rest on Pakistan annihilating the kiwis tomorrow and the proteas on Friday by large enough margins to get SL sneak thru on better nett run rate – a distinct possibility if Pakistan remain focused and don’t ‘tamper’ with their volatility threshold!

Sri Lanka had everything their way from the time Jayewardene won the toss, put SA in to bat, got them on the mat when the venerable Vaas got the captain and his opening partner back in the hut and the spinners almost spun the game their way, despite a typically gritty Kallis innings, with incisive spells. Well almost, until the reversal of fortunes started with 37 valuable South African runs coming off the last 18 deliveries of the innings to get well beyond the psychological safety zone of 200 run mark.

Pollock and Ntini combined well to exhibit the fine art of seam bowling to give Sri Lankans a triple jolt – Jayasuriya was a bit unlucky to be adjudged lbw down the leg side while Tharanga and Sangakkara succumbed flirting with enticing away seaming beauties.

One wonders if Atapattu was foxed more by Nel’s bowling action than by his indippers and from then it all rested on Jayawardene who was shaping pretty well along with Dilshan until that brilliant dive and save by Gibbs at point that gave Pollock his moment of glory to run the Sri Lankan captain out. Dilshan laboured hard to reenact the match-winning knock he had against India last year in the same venue but it was always a tough ask against a brilliant fielding outfit that slipped on the dew but ensured the victory was not slipped this evening.

The South Africans had labeled this a grudge match – but there was no grudge for the unassuming warhorse Pollock winning the Man of the Match award.

Rahul Dravid would’nt have missed taking a few cues from the conditions at Ahmedabad today – if he bats second, he would urge his guys to preserve wickets in the first 30 overs and let the dew take care of the asking run rate in the next 20.

The way things are panning out, it seems that winning this tournament will be predicated on how well the team does ‘dew management’ and ‘crack handling’!!

 
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