Cow Corner

How many stinkers for a classic?

Cow Corner

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Cow
Corner's mind drifted a little during the contest between Sri Lanka and Kenya.
Can you blame it?

The
brothers Obuya battled bravely for 94 runs in 30 overs, desperately trying to
steer Kenya to something better than their top score of 112 all out.

Of course
there was a certain gallantry to their performance - albeit with several
comedic leading edges and a supporting cast of desperate bat wielders and a
large cameo from Lady Luck.

But even as
the duo's partnership continued it was plain that their contribution was as
likely to prevent a Sri Lanka victory as Sir Ian Botham is likely to renounce
alcohol and join a monastery.

Despite their
efforts, Sri Lanka won the game with 188 balls to spare.

Add that
almighty hammering to yesterday's drubbings, where the West Indies beat the
Netherlands by 215 runs and Zimbabwe - yes, even Zimbabwe are in on the act - smashed
Canada by 175 runs.

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Not that it
didn't mean something to the Kenyans - you only had to look at Elijah Otieno's
extravagant badge-kissing celebrations when he took the wicket of Tillakaratne
Dilshan, despite the game being long gone.

Nevertheless,
for the neutral that is a sobering come-down from the heights of England v
India, which snaked one way and then another before ending up a scintillating
draw in front of a full house.

After the
early finish, the television coverage reminded its audience of as much because
it filled the time with highlights of Sunday's epic in Bangalore.

That's the
frustration of the World Cup in a nutshell; it produces magic matches, it
really does. But there is an awful lot of dross to endure in order to see them.

We're now
14 matches into this tournament, and perhaps just four games - England v
Netherlands, England v India, Bangladesh v Ireland and Pakistan v Sri Lanka - have
been close, and gone all or nearly all the way.

The
argument about the presence of non-Test playing nations at the World Cup has
been raised before, but they are not the sole problem, and the blame cannot be
laid at their door. Two of the exciting games mentioned above featured minnow
nations, after all.

The problem
is that the one-day format is neither conducive to too many close finishes, or
to a great many upsets. Rampage through a batting line-up in the first innings
and the second innings writes itself. Score above par first up and the pressure
is often too much to bear in the chase.

The
classics come when cricket laughs at those truisms - and for that very reason,
they have to be, by definition, exceptional.

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When Andrew
Strauss and Ian Bell scythe their way towards a victory target of 339.

When a
semi-final ends with a run-out with one run required to win.

When a
strike bowler threatens to spoil a processional win by taking four wickets in
four balls.

When Kenya
(remember them?) gatecrash a World Cup and reach the semi-finals.

So make the
most of non-contests, and enjoy those battles within battles, such as the
Obuyas clinging on against a barrage of pace and spin.

Because
around the corner is the next classic.

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Speaking of
strike bowlers, Lasith Malinga, who took those aforementioned four wickets in
four balls in 2007 when Sri Lanka played South Africa in Guyana, was at it
again today.

Today he
took six wickets against the Kenyans, including a hat-trick with three yorkers
- the first leg-before, the second and third clean-bowled.

It would be
very easy to play down the achievement against the Kenyans, whose batting has
been abysmal all tournament.

But taking
six wickets with balls just shy of 90mph aimed at the batsmen's toes is no mean
feat, whoever the opposition.

Send down
six of those to Sachin Tendulkar, and he won't be able to keep all of them out.

Not bad for
a man who was making his comeback from injury. His presence in the team is a
huge bonus to Sri Lanka ahead of a mouthwatering clash with Australia on
Saturday.

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SHOT OF THE DAY: The award goes to Upul Tharanga, who lifts a ball almost impossibly straight and true
over Shem Ngoche to set the tone of the Sri Lankan run chase.

STAT OF THE DAY: 1 -
the number of bowlers to have taken two hat-tricks in World Cups. Lasith
Malinga claims his own little corner of history.

TWEET OF THE DAY: "People always ask why I blow bubbles
with my chewy when I bat! Answer is I really have no idea! Just habit I guess"
And they say Twitter is just a tool for inane self-promotion. Who doesn't
understand Australia's Aaron Finch a
little better after this?

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Anybody who thinks Malinga is
a chucker or has a­ suspect action clearly hasn't got much of a clue.­ He has
one of the most legitimate actions in world­ cricket, unorthodox, but beyond
question­ legitimate. And he's a fine and exciting bowler­ into the bargain...."
nocohere sings the praises of the
man of the day.

COMING UP TOMORROW: 100% of England's two games this World Cup have
been interesting and close, as have 100% of Ireland's one game. Like those
odds? Throw in a home nations angle, add the intrigue of England's 2007 World
Cup opener Ed Joyce lining up against former team-mates in Ireland colours, and
a selection of Irishmen with weird hair for charity (see Kevin O'Brien, below) and you have a fascinating England v Ireland match in Bangalore.
Play starts at 9am UK time.

 

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