Sri Lanka might have studied Sunil Narine’s knuckle ball, arm ball and offbreak, but Tillakaratne Dilshan and Narine himself seemed unprepared for a fourth variation. Brought into the attack in the fifth over, Narine delivered a seam-up ball that was perhaps meant to just go on with the arm, but ended up taking substantial late swing. Dilshan was too late to make the adjustment, and having shaped to flay it on the off side, found the ball traveling between bat and pad to take his off stump.
The “too little too late”
No one likes to run out the captain, particularly if he is batting on more than 50. So when Carlos Brathwaite realised his mistake in the penultimate over of West Indies’ innings, he seemed to want to reverse it. He called Samuels through for a second run, but the captain didn’t venture far from the non-striker’s end. Both batsmen ended up at the same end, and realising his plight, Brathwaite tried to run back past Samuels so he would be the man dismissed. It wasn’t to be, however. Sri Lanka had already whipped the bails off.
Samuels has a history of hurting Sri Lanka when reprieved, on this ground. In the 2012 World T20, Samuels was dropped in the deep for 20 and went on to hit a match-winning 78. Samuels was spilled again in the deep on Wednesday, this time on 38. He showed glimpses of his destructive potential, lofting Malinga into the sightscreen soon after, but was not able to have such a dramatic impact on the match this time.
Lasith Malinga’s bowling had been uncharacteristically modest for much of the year. His fielding, though, had been almost diabolical. Often Malinga has seemed incapable of making direct hits even if he was throwing from inside the stumps, but on Wednesday he made a high quality manoeuvre most athletic men would be proud of. Seeing Narine bunt the ball back down the pitch in the 38th over, Malinga took off in the direction of the stumps, picked up the ball while diving, and effortlessly threw down the stumps in one elegant move. The non-striker was run out by a distance.