Pollard’s hara-kiri

Kieron Pollard was dismissed the last ball before the rain came down. The loss of that wicket left the West Indies six down for 190, and level with the D/L par score. Had Pollard even left that ball alone, his team would have won. By Shreedutta Chidananda.

South Africa made it into the semi-finals in dramatic fashion, tying a rain-affected game with the West Indies in Cardiff to sneak through on net run-rate. The tie itself came about in heartbreaking manner for the West Indies.

Chasing 231 in 31 overs, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard had launched a fine assault to take their team rapidly close to the target when the returning Dale Steyn removed the former. Pollard was then dismissed the last ball before the rain came down. The loss of that wicket left the West Indies six down for 190, and level with the D/L par score. Had Pollard even left that ball alone, his team would have won. Maybe it was finally South Africa’s moment to finish on the right side of a D/L result. “It feels great,” the captain A.B. de Villiers said afterwards. “We’ve been on the wrong side of these kinds of matches in the past quite a few times.”

Earlier in the week, de Villiers’s men thrashed Pakistan at Edgbaston, thanks mainly to 81 from Hashim Amla and Ryan McLaren’s four for 19.

The loss, a result of the side’s continued batting woes, dumped Pakistan out of the competition. Chasing 234, Misbah-ul-Haq’s men fell 67 runs short. “It’s really difficult and disappointing,” he said. “[We needed] less than six runs an over, and that was very much like a Pakistani pitch. It’s not a match where you could say the wicket was difficult. At the moment, nobody is justifying their place on the team and nobody is getting runs for Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s woes were compounded when it was crushed by India to return home winless. Having beaten the West Indies at The Oval, India had already made it through to the semi-finals from Group ‘B’.

Group ‘A’, however, looked no nearer resolution. First New Zealand saw off Lasith Malinga to clinch a nail-biting one-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Cardiff. In pursuit of a meagre 138, New Zealand stumbled and stalled, conceding three wickets to Malinga’s dipping, slow yorkers. The DRS emerged a point of discussion yet again, the manner of interpretation of the reviews meaning that both teams received decisions they could otherwise have had overturned.

Tim Southee’s survival was one such instance, and he eventually saw New Zealand home. The captain Brendon McCullum admitted his team had “got out of jail.” “You sort of prepare for the dead ball and we’ve had some yorkers with slow balls and slow-ball bouncers, etc. But Lasith is a completely different proposition altogether. He bowled brilliantly today and was probably unlucky not to come out on the right side of the result. But it’s hard to prepare for that sort of bowling,” he said.

The Kiwis’ second game, against Australia at Edgbaston, was a washout with both teams therefore having to split points. With Warner only running the drinks, Australia made 243 in 50 overs and then reduced New Zealand to 51 for two before the rain came down.

The twist arrived when England, talked up as the group’s best team, was laid low by Sri Lanka. After fifties from Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root had taken the home team to 293, Sri Lanka responded remarkably well. Kumar Sangakkara struck a 135-ball-134 before Nuwan Kulasekara’s fireworks late on changed the complexion of the contest. The all-rounder made 58 (38b) and Sri Lanka won with almost three overs to spare. “Kulasekara batted very intelligently, and that was the difference in that situation because it was easy for him to come and try and hit every ball, but he batted sensibly through power play and then accelerated right after,” Sangakkara said.

“If that (the decision to promote Kulasekara) hadn’t worked, I think the team would have been torn to shreds, Angelo would have taken a lot of stick and criticism as to what was he doing and what were the coaches thinking. But when it does work it’s fantastic. Decisions like that can go both ways.”

THE SCORES

Group B, South Africa v West Indies, Cardiff, June 14: South Africa 230 for six in 31 overs (C. Ingram 73, Dwayne Bravo two for 43) tied with West Indies 190 for six in 26.1 overs (M. Samuels 48, D. Steyn two for 33) D/L method.

Group A, England v Sri Lanka, The Oval, June 13: England 293 for seven in 50 overs (J. Trott 76, J. Root 68, A. Cook 59) lost to Sri Lanka 297 for three in 47.1 overs (K. Sangakkara 134 not out, N. Kulasekara 58 not out).

Group A, Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston, June 12: Australia 243 for eight in 50 overs (A. Voges 71, G. Bailey 55, M. McClenaghan four for 65) v New Zealand 51 for two in 15 overs. Match abandoned.

Group B, Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston, June 10: South Africa 234 for nine in 50 overs (H. Amla 81) beat Pakistan 167 in 45 overs (Misbah 55, R. McLaren four for 19).

Group A, New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Cardiff, June 9: Sri Lanka 138 in 37.5 overs (K. Sangakkara 68, M. McClenaghan four for 43, K. Mills two for 14) lost to New Zealand 139 for nine in 36.3 overs (N. McCullum 32, L. Malinga four for 34).