Move of the Day
Sri Lanka were wise to send Nuwan Kulasekara to bat ahead of a recognised allrounder like Thisara Perera. It was a critical moment in the match when Chamara Kapugedera disappointed by failing to read a slower ball from Zaheer Khan. At 182 for 6 with ten overs to go Sri Lanka needed another partnership before they could utilise the batting Powerplay to their advantage. Kulasekara might not be a specialist batsman but is a gritty character and he managed to rotate the strike with his senior partner Mahela Jayawardena and put the pressure back on the Indian bowlers. Eventually, their 66-run partnership allowed Sri Lanka to assume a commanding position, which was further strengthened by Jayawardena and Perera in final five overs, which fetched 54 runs.
Theatrics of the Day
There were plenty of Sreesanth moments on the field today. His first ball itself was full of theatrics. It pitched outside leg and straightened to catch Tillakaratne Dilshan on the pads, prompting an appeal so primal and so prolonged that it earned him a prompt rebuke from Aleem Dar. But it was the 13th over when it all boiled over for Sreesanth. On the second ball, Kumar Sangakkara shimmed down the wicket and lofted over mid-off; the next one was driven straight back him and he splayed his legs to make room for the ball to pass through; on the fifth, he was warned for running on to the danger area; the sixth was a no-ball, and the free-hit was edged past the wicketkeeper for four. From 39 for 1 in 12 overs, Sri Lanka jumped to 54 in the course of these six balls, and Sreesanth walked off looked heavenwards, pondering divine injustice.
The passage that captured how Jayawardena had gone about his stunning century involved not so much a shot but what he did after it. He swung Zaheer Khan over midwicket for a boundary and ran down the pitch pumping his fist and waving his bat everywhere he could see his country's flags. Then came the moment. He put down his bat, took off his gloves and helmet, and placed them on the ground. There were 13 balls to go but it was as if this was a Test match where he needed to take a breather to re-mark his guard and start again. He re-adjusted the bandana he wears before picking the helmet up again and strapping it all up. Zaheer was at the top of his run, arms on his hips, wondering waiting to bowl the next ball. The whole stadium, somewhat numbed by the Sri Lankan Powerplay acceleration, was waiting. Having controlled the entire innings, Mahela would not be rushed and more than anything else, who else could have taken their own time.
Catch of the Day
The third-wicket partnership between the two Indian Turks was beginning to build and had gone past 50 when Dilshan found his one chance. The Sri Lankan fielding had begun to flatline and then it happened. Virat Kohli tried to drive one over Dilshan but found neither direction and all that Dilshan saw was the ball coming to his right. He flung himself towards the non-striker Gautam Gambhir, and as it flew past, snatched it just in time. It was secure in his hand by the time he hit the ground and when he got up, he let out a shout of joy as his teammates crowded around him. The partnership had been broken and Sri Lanka then lifted themselves in the field.
Rearrangement of the Day
Zaheer and World Cup finals have an interesting relationship. In the ill-fated 2003 edition, he went for 15 runs in a wayward nervous first over after India had put Australia in. Today seemed set for perfect redemption when he started with three consecutive maidens and took Upul Tharanga's wicket, too, in his first spell. Cricket, though, can be cruel, and in his last spell, Zaheer realised just that. Mahela and Perera took 35 off his last two overs to send his figures from 5-3-6-1 at one point to 10-3-60-1. A lot can change in two hours.