This is the World Cup that started with a bang, with plenty of excitement, some strong showings, and surprises. It then tapered off into a sludge of matches of little or no import. About the only thing left was to see whether Ireland could pip the West Indies and Pakistan to a quarter final spot. Which they deserved more than the West Indies, really.
Then it was was time for QF 1. This the real deal, the place where run rates don’t really matter, methods, plans and data matters only if you can win. For the losers, there is a small period of downtime, some shopping and then the flight home. The winners go on to the next round of the joust.
QF1, SAF vs SL was the match that never was. Sri Lanka, displaying characteristic funkiness changed their opening pair. Granted that Thirimanne has, to me at least, looked likely to get out at any moment, he had stitched together some good partnerships with Kumar Sangakkara. His replacement swished around trying to work out where the ball was, tried hard to get out and shortly thereafter he did. The rest of the Sri Lankan batting was strangely reticent and before I had a chance to wonder if I needed a late night snack, the match was over. Why Sri Lanka changed plans, I don’t know.
Sri Lanka batting:
Kusal Perera: 0/5. Swishing your bat around hopefully against the likes of Steyn is not batting. Bad move, bad batting.
Kumar Sangakkara: 1/5 Somewhere in the Sri Lankan hotel room, I’m sure, the real Sangakarra was lying gagged and bound while this impostor took his place. He did not lead the way, did not rotate the strike, allowed the bowlers to settle and, worst of all, instead of showing the rest of his less talented and experienced team mates that the bowling held no terrors and demonstrated how to deal with it, he actually did quite the opposite. Bad plan, bad leadership.
There wasn’t much of the rest. Except for Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews and finally, Sangakkara at the end, none of the batsmen fell actually attempting to play an run making shot. In the process JP Duminy, the speculative 5th bowler in the South African side took a hat trick. JP was the bowler about him it was wondered if SAF could expect a full quota of 10 overs. Well, he didn’t needing only 8.2.
South Africa bowling:
Dale Steyn: 4/5. Was fast, accurate and very tight. I took a point away from him because of the the Sri Lankan batting ( see above).
Kyle Abbot: 3.5/5. Started well, helped by some tentative batting, but tended to fade away just a bit.
Morne Morkel: 3.5.5. Came on when the Sri Lankans were already down and stuck to a tight line.
Imran Tahir: I suppose I’ll have to give him 4/5. He does seem to have a cleverly disguised long hop, with which he got Kohli the other day and on this day he claimed Mahela Jayawardene with it. Took 4 wickets, mostly because, as I believe steadfastly, he is seen as the release bowler, batsmen thus take liberties with him and he’s not quite bad enough to be take liberties with.
JP Duminy: 2.5/5 What, you say? The man took a hat trick! Well, yes, he did, but consider the facts. Angelo Mathews played a nothing shot, neither attacking nor defending, not knowing quite what he was doing. Kulasekara played a nothing shot, going neither back nor front, allowing the ball to do as it wished. Kaushal missed a straight one while he was trying to defend! Bah!
South Africa batting:
Quinton de Kock: Finally got some runs and the South Africans ( including Mr Q de Kock) will me pleased he got some runs. I have an issue with this 12 year old masquerading as a 22 year old. I see his grip on the bat is so far around the handle, that he seems to be offering the leading edge to the ball. I wonder if a quick right armer move it away outside the off stump from over the wicket to a couple of slips and 2 gullies might not get young Mr de Kock in trouble. Or a pitch where the balls stops a bit, in which case I want a shortish mid off / mid on.
The rest: weren’t really needed. And by that I mean the Sri Lankan bowlers and the rest of the South African batsmen.
A sad final ODI for Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Should have thought it through, fellers! Good luck off the field, thanks for the great innings you’ve given us all.