Don’t worry, this isn’t another musical episode of Photostory – been there, done that – although you may or may not find a few references to Rihanna slipped into this one!
Things we’ll remember from Match 39 of CWC19 – Avishka Fernando, Nicholas Pooran and Rihanna.
Things we won’t forget about Match 39 of CWC19 – Angelo Mathews’ first ball in international cricket for 561 days.
The highlight reels will be littered with the work of Fernando and Pooran, the experts will rant and rave about the fresh cut, gleaming gems, but don’t forget about that old family heirloom aka Angelo Mathews – still shining bright like a diamond.
Here’s the game in pictures!
1. Another near-perfect start
Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera, off to a flier. How often have we heard that over the past month? Often enough that we’ve begun to believe Sri Lanka have found the perfect opening pairing. Partnerships of 92, 115, 3, 0 & 93 in the tournament so far would suggest so.
2.Sanath Jayasuriya incarnate
Sanath Jayasuriya celebrated his 50th birthday a couple of days ago and his near mirror image with bat in hand, Kusal Perera, seemed determined to roll back the years for his fans. Not quite as mercurial as his idol, but Perera has got the job done in England – today he made his 3rd half century of the tournament.
3. Just keep running
One big difference between Sri Lanka’s performance today, when compared to what we saw against South Africa, was the running between wickets. With huge boundaries down the ground, there were plenty of gaps to work the ball into and Sri Lanka did just that. They ran and they ran until they ran when they shouldn’t have run. Perera was the man to pay the price, run-out when there was a century calling out his name.
4. The Future
The middle-order had taken the blame for Sri Lanka’s failures, but here was an opportunity to make things right, with less pressure on, the game being a dead-rubber. Kusal Mendis has been condemned, attacked, ‘memed’ but two boundaries into his innings, he was looking like ‘the future of Sri Lanka cricket’ once again. A partnership of 85 between Mendis and Avishka Fernando meant that there were no middle-order wobbles today.
5. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong guy?
With the greatest respect to Lahiru Thirimanne, with almost 11 overs to go and the team pushing towards a big total, a stylish, somewhat out of form top order batsmen is probably not the man you want to see walking out at number 6. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, that’s what they had and they had to make do with it. Thirimanne got the job done much better than anyone else we’ve seen at No. 6 for Sri Lanka in the tournament – scoring at 136.36 – the best strike rate by a Sri Lankan in this game.
6. Boy wonder
At 21 years of age Avishka Fernando became the youngest Sri Lankan to score a century in a World Cup and the third youngest overall, behind Paul Stirling and Ricky Ponting. He’s had people hanging onto every movement of his bat since the first ball he faced against England a couple of weeks ago, asking ‘where have you been’ and he mesmerized all the way to a maiden ODI ton in just his 9th game. This is the same guy who looked absolutely out of his league facing Mitchell Starc on debut a couple of years ago. Although, to be fair, Starc has probably made a few others look quite silly too. Talks of him leading Sri Lanka’s batting line-up in 2023 are already emerging, isn’t that an exciting prospect!
7. Part-timer – specialist spinner – Malinga’s partner
Dhananjaya de Silva, the batsman who was oozing swag in 2016, is now Sri Lanka’s opening bowler and frontline spinner. We’ve seen this happen before, the 180 degree transformation, but perhaps never with a man who has shown this much promise in one discipline. With the chief selector and even his captain insisting that he is in the team for his bowling, de Silva has put his aspirations of batting in the top order on hold for the moment and instead focused on being Lasith Malinga’s partner with the new ball. With the target set at 339, his opening spell of 5 overs went for 17 runs, and despite not taking any wickets, he kept things tight as Malinga created the opportunities at the other end, getting rid of Shai Hope and Sunil Ambris.
8. Mr Lasith ‘Luckless’ Malinga
There isn’t a day that goes by without someone dropping a catch off Malinga’s bowling, literally, NOT.A.DAY. He nearly had Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmeyer dismissed in the same over but Thirimanne and then Mendis put down the chances – frustration written all over his face, all Mali could do was get back to the top of his mark and try again.
9. World Cup debutants in action
Kasun Rajitha, called up to replace Nuwan Pradeep in the squad, slotted right into the playing XI in this game, as did Jeffery Vandersay, who had spent the last month warming the bench and carrying the drinks. The pair, getting their 1st taste of World Cup cricket, combined to dismiss the Universe Boss aka Christopher Henry Gayle. Neither had a particularly good outing, but surely it was an unforgettable one.
10. Disappointing Rihanna
Hetmeyer was caught short of his crease and then Holder holed out trying to clear the infield, but the Windies still had Carlos Brathwaite, remember the name? Rihanna, his former classmate, was in the stands to watch the big guy belt a few, but it wasn’t to be, as Isuru Udana got the slightest of touches on a straight drive by Pooran, before the ball crashed into the stumps. A game of small margins, indeed!
11. Fabian Allen can bat!
With the Windies 7 down and just Pooran left as a recognized batsman, Sri Lanka relaxed. Their 5th bowler, Vandersay, had been bowling long hops and half volleys all day, but they persisted with him. Allen took the attack to the bowlers, whipping, lofting and slashing boundaries and with only 5 bowlers at their disposal, Sri Lanka were in serious trouble.
12. Facepalm, stomp feet kinda day
It was just that kinda day at Chester-le-Street, and for both teams! Sri Lanka’s ground fielding was marginally better than that of the Windies, but there were so many mishaps on the field, you can’t be blamed for losing count of how many there were. From the best fielder, to the worst, the ball showed no mercy, slipping through fingers, sliding through legs, flying over outstretched hands.
13. Slightly older Boy wonder
Fabian Allen, the aggressor was gone, but Pooran was quietly and calmly building towards a maiden ODI 100. At 23 years old, he’s a couple of years older than Avishka Fernando but no less talented or pleasing to the eye.
14.Mr Luckless returns
With Windies pushing towards the win, Karunaratne had no choice but to bring back his main man Malinga into the attack – hoping against hope that he’d be able to clean up the tail. Pooran lofts one towards long-off, Ian Bishop moans in agony on commentary and then Thisara Perera completely misjudges the ball and it goes over his head and into the boundary. It was like Cardiff all over again!
15. A 561-day long break
31 needed off the last three. West Indies know 2 of those last three overs are going to be bowled by someone they can get runs off. Karunaratne sends out an S.O.S, up steps Angelo Mathews. He hasn’t bowled in competitive cricket in 561 days – hasn’t bowled in the nets in nearly 8 months. Having given up his bowling to save his body from injuries because Sri Lanka needed Mathews the batsman, he took the ball when Sri Lanka needed, desperately, Mathews the bowler. He ambles in, bowls one full and outside the off-stump, two seconds later he nearly knocks Kusal Perera’s head off in celebration – he’s nicked off Pooran!
Heartbreak for West Indies but more joy for Sri Lanka, Mr Luckless picked up one more as the Windies finished 23 runs short of the target. Sri Lanka are probably wondering where Rihanna and her umbrella were when it was raining in Bristol – the two no-results effectively knocking them out even if they finish on equal footing with England.
* PS: Celebrities, celebrities, EVERYWHERE!
They’ve got their celebrities, we’ve got ours, am I right Minister?