In the past week, we have seen both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh put up an extraordinary bowling display in the World Cup.
But their games against England and South Africa respectively were also a reflection on the astuteness of their captains. A great bowling side is never complete without a good captain marshalling his resources well. To hand over the ball to the reasonably inexperienced Fernando, when Lanka had Jayasuriya and Vaas as options, was a brave decision by Jayawardene.
Such crucial moments prove whether a captain can take independent decisions. And, by choosing Fernando, Jayawardene instilled a great deal of confidence in the young bowler, and that was reflected in his last over.
We saw two other contests during the match. One was the psychological battle between Pietersen and Muralitharan and then, Malinga taking on Nixon.
What makes the Sri Lankan bowlers so deadly is the variety they bring into their attack. Malinga is unique with his unusual round-arm action, Vaas is a classical lone left-arm swing bowler, the tall and high arm Dilhara hits the wicket harder and then, is the left-arm spin of Jayasuriya.
On the other hand, Bangladesh’s win over South Africa proved they can no longer be called minnows. The win may not take them into the next round but it has made the Super Eights more interesting by bringing England back into the equation.
Contrary to the variety in Lanka’s bowling, the Bangla’s three-man left-arm spin attack worked wonders. All three spinners, naggingly accurate, exploited the conditions beautifully. By withdrawing the pace of the ball and giving it more flight, the bowlers troubled the South Africans.
Ashraful’s batting, along with Mortaza is also worth mentioning. The pair turned the tide, only to reinforce that beating India was no fluke. The only disappointment for them would be coach Dav Whatmore, who threw his hat into the ring for the India job. The timing of expressing his interest might well go against him.