Ball One – Is Zaheer Khan the new McGrath? He’s a different kind of bowler – less bounce, more swing – but he tortures batsmen with subtle movement and discipline at not much above medium pace just like Pidge did back in the day. He’s not the most natural of athletes, but he knows his body and has managed it superbly through this long tournament. No cricketer has improved more over the last five years and no praise is too high for a player whose career had stalled, but now has soared.
Ball Two – Controversy even before the match begins, but I don’t see why. The Toss is owned by the referee – if the referee does not hear the call, the toss is repeated. Doesn’t matter what the call was or who made it – it’s the referee who is in charge and must satisfy himself before awarding the toss to one captain or the other. Referees can’t start asking captains about what they called.
Ball Three – 105-2 at the halfway mark. The Lankans will be looking to follow the regular pattern in this World Cup and accelerate towards the end of the innings. It looks like a 250 pitch to me, though Sehwag can make any score look inadequate. A run a ball from here is a big ask, but that’ll only get the Lankans to ten ahead of my par score – there’s little margin for error now.
Ball Four – Mahela late cuts and Sachin flings himself to the ground to stop the boundary. Two impressions bubble up: that Mahela may be the last of a dying breed of players who hit the ball only as hard as they need to; and that Sachin really, really wants this one. As if we thought otherwise.
Ball Five – Still ten overs to go and it’s all about Mahela as far as the Lankans are concerned. The great Australian sides always seemed to find someone to deliver in this situation, but there’s only Mahela left now – what pressure!
Ball Six – Is it ever worth using a review for an outside edge off a seamer? Munaf looked to have snared Kulasekera, but there’s seldom enough evidence available to the TV umpire to overturn the on-field decision. By sound and sight in real time, all my instincts told me it was out, but instinct isn’t evidence and Kulasekera was reprieved.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999