Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nutley live updates from Bridgetown

08:45 A huge cheer goes up for the Australians as they begin their warm-ups. As anticipated there is local cheer for the Sri Lankans as they emerge. The pitch, by all accounts, is a belter.

09:30 Rain and rain. Is this tournament cursed? An epic final would have done little in my mind to appease the critics, but if rain continues to lash down... A few colleagues are hopeful of a start - they have a flight to catch on Sunday night!

12:08 The players emerge for the 38-over Final. Lasitha Malinga goes to his third man position and receives a massive ovation from the Hewitt and Inniss stand. I can see English, Indian and, of course, Sri Lankan fans down there.

12:45 So this is what Caribbean atmosphere is like. I haven't heard a cheer like it as the crowd think Hayden is caught. It is a bump ball. Let's wait for the first wicket to really see the Kensington 'Mecca' erupt.

1:05 Gilchrist is on fire. He is also giving poor Fernando a terrible time. The lanky Sri Lankan looks miffed with Gilly's outburst. A straight four down the ground which whizzes past Hayden, then a monumental on-side six. It doesn't help when old hands Jayasuriya and skipper Jayawardene are fielding either side of Fernando. Anyway, on comes Murali as the score goes to 63-0 off 11.

1:20 This is turning into a sensational partnership. Fernando is hapless again as Gilchrist brings up the 100 partnership with a towering off-side six. Hayden greets his partner with a huge hug half-way down the wicket. Gilchrist 79 not out off 59 balls.

1:45 It's all happening here in the 21st over. Gilchrist brings up his 100 off 72 balls: cheers aroudn the Oval and applause even in the press box. Then, Sangakarra is given a chance from Gilchrist's blade. It would have been a pearler of a catch. Vaas is on and is having a torrid time: pulled by Gilchrist, four wides and four byes in succession. 260 looking likely which is stll too much.

2:10 192-1 off 26 overs. Wow! 300 looks on the cards if they manage 100 off the last 10. I think that would be way too much for even Sri Lanka's batsmen. And a Gilchrist double ton is not out of the question either. What a toss to win.

3:15 So 282 to win. Oh how the tournament needs at least a climatic finish to end this prolonged 47 days of World Cup cricket. I've spent the last 30mins with the Sri Lankan supporters and interviewing Percy, the country's flag-waving fan of 50 years. He nicknames his grandson Garfield after the great left-hander. Can Jayasuriya emulate that?

3:45 The sun is beating down here at Kensington, Shaun Tait has been hit for 16 off his over and Tony Cozier looks resplendent in his sun hat sitting a few down from me. All is well in Barbados, now for a few stunning overs for the Sri Lankans.

4:20 The ground has really come alive. The 13th over produced three wondrous shots from Jayasuriya. In the next, partner Sangakkara hit 6,4,4. The Sri Lankan Lion flags are out, the noise is deafening and the colour of a cricket match is there for all to see. Sri Lanka 82-1 off 14.

5:25 Dark clouds and ultimately rain has left Sri Lanka behind on the D/L method. 150 for 3 off 25 and a mountain to climb. The umpires have done a grand job in continuing the game as quickly as possible. Perhaps Billy Bowden, who has been marching around with headphones on since the rain, has had an SOS call from Malcolm Speed to get the game going to appease the fans?

6:10 Okay it is very dark now: this is about the time of day when sundowners are taken let alone finish a cricket match. The players are back on the field and I believe they are attempting to finish the game otherwise they are back tomorrow for the remaining overs. But if they are off doesn't the D/L method constitute a game after a certain amount of overs (not the usual 20 overs?). No one knows what is going on.

Australia have won and celebrate in near darkness. An ICC official is up in the press box and clearly has no idea what is going on, as he attempts to find an explanation. What a farce!