If Lankan team Management was thinking by not exposing Vaas and Murali in this game to Aussies now, they can pose problems to them later in the finals, well, then they must be kidding and also taking New Zealand for granted, which I honestly fell is a great mistake. But if the real reason as claimed by Sri Lankan skipper Jayawardene was not to take risk with Vaas and Murali as they are prone to recurring or aggravating the injuries they suffered in recent past, especially since having already qualified for the semi-final, then it definitely is justifiable to give them a break.
But not having Vaas and Murali in the side on top of injured Malinga may have prompted Jayawardene not to bowl first which has become a norm for the captain winning the toss in this tournament to take advantage of early morning conditions. Instead Sri Lanka batted first and found themselves at the receiving end as Bracken and McGrath sent top three Sri Lankan batsmen back to the pavilion for just 27 runs. The score would have been even lower had Shaun Tait been not so erratic and inconsistent during his first spell. Both Bracken and McGrath bowled brilliant and miserly opening spells and troubled the Lankan batsmen getting three wickets in space of fourteen deliveries with a wicket each in fifth, sixth and seventh over of the innings. Jayasuriya was first to go lbw to Bracken for 12, Then McGrath replacing Tait had Sangakkara lbw for a duck. Sangakkara was a little bit unlucky that the decision went in favor of bowler giving a wicket to McGrath in the first over he bowled in a match for the fifth time in eight games of this tournament.
Jayawerdene (72) and Chamara Silva (64) then resurrected the innings adding 140 runs for the fourth wicket. Their partnership proved out to be the only bright spot for Sri Lanka and promised an even contest in an otherwise a boring one side affair. Brad Hogg, who seems to be improving by leaps and bounds with every match that he has been playing, broke the partnership getting the top edge of Chamara Silva’s bat when he tried to sweep. Then two overs later he had Jayawardene stumped with a beauty. Sri Lanka from being in a great position of 167 for 3 during the 38th over with two set batsmen and plenty of batting to come and were all set to take the score to 300 plus suddenly found themselves struggling to touch the 200 run mark. Hogg’s intelligent yet economical spin bowling and his two wickets at a very critical stage changed the momentum in Australia’s favor completely. And with the re-introduction of Shaun Tait and Nathan Bracken they lost 5 wickets for just 17 runs and quickly became 184/8. It’s only some lusty late order hitting by Bandara and Maharoof that took the Sri Lankan total to 226.
Defending a total of 226 against Australia, that too not having three of your best bowlers in the side was never going to be easy and Jayawerdene soon found it. With the kind of form their top order batsmen are in which has given just 72 balls of batting for their No. 5 batsman Mike Hussey Australia cruised to a comfortable victory again without requiring the services of Mr. Cricket.
Sri Lanka never looked like interested in giving a fight let alone winning. Gilchrist and Hayden provided another 50+ opening stand in an ODI, their 40th together, surpassing the previous record of 39 between Greenidge and Haynes. Ricky Ponting who doesn’t seem to be getting out in this tournament finished the match with a six and remained not out on 66 where as Symonds played his first big innings of this tournament and remained unbeaten on 63.
Whether Sri Lanka’s tactics to rest their best bowlers will have an impact on Aussie batsmen if at all they meet again in this tournament is something that only their team management can address. But if you have resorted to losing an inconsequential match and did not give your best shot at beating them, 99 out of 100 times you won’t be able to win when it matters. Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene and their coach Tom Moody must be thinking about the remaining one percent.
Today’s ‘Quiztion of the day’ is about that one percent occasions of not exposing a bowler to the opponents in an inconsequential match and then making use of him when it mattered most. Here it is:
This incident did not take place in the World Cup but both the captain and the bowler represented their country in the World Cup games. Captain of the team instructed this bowler in a tour match to just play around instead of showing what he was capable of doing so that he won’t get exposed.
Remember to email your answers for each quiz individually to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line as 'Quiztion of the Day - X' (X being the question number) through out the tournament duration. Results will be first posted on http://www.dreamcricket.com/ website within a week of the World cup Final.