McCullum’s leap of faith, Taylor’s long walk goodbye and Chandimal’s agony

Monday, 16 March 2015 03:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNcricinfo’s correspondents at the World Cup pick their best moments from the fourth week of matches                          

Brendan Taylor’s fitting farewell

By Sharda Ugra India v Zimbabwe, Auckland, 14 March The match pitted the big bucks of cricket against the no-bucks, the world’s richest and largest cricket nation, in terms of supporter numbers, against a side that has fights every day for its relevance and survival. The retirement of Brendan Taylor, former Zimbabwe captain and their most experienced ODI player, however, served to bring together the best things that the game stands for. The crowd, which certainly sounded like more than 90% Indian, warmed to Taylor’s innings. When he reached his century and punched his fist into the air, the applause was thunderous. When he was out for 138, the Indians on and off the field gave him a farewell as if he were one of their own. As he walked off, a few Indian fielders ran over to shake his hand. Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, one from a fielding position, another breaking away from the team group, patting Taylor on the back, saying goodbye and well played. Taylor was not the only one “overwhelmed” by the crowd’s response and “moved” by the fielders’ reactions. He said, “They didn’t have to do that. They’re very established players, it was a very nice touch.” Oh, but they did, we did. The spirit of cricket was on display.                          

The brilliance and insanity of being McCullum

By Andrew McGlashan New Zealand v Bangladesh, Hamilton, 13 March There were gasps. Then people held their breath. Brendon McCullum had charged down a ball towards the boundary - it has become one of his trademarks for the tournament, and is a dynamic sight. Few people eat up the ground like he can. He wasn’t going to reach it, but then put in one final mighty dive. The hang-time was incredible. The still images just needed a cape superimposed. Then he thudded to the ground. Surely not? Not in a group match of, largely, little significance to New Zealand. He lifted himself up, checked all limbs were still in position. People started to breathe again. He needed some tape on his palm, but that was the limit of the damage. All’s well that ends well. McCullum’s attitude is infectious, but was this worth it?                          

A World Cup dream cut short

By Andrew Fernando Australia v Sri Lanka, Sydney, 8 March Dinesh Chandimal had not been in the XI for the first two matches. Sri Lanka didn’t lose enough wickets for him to bat in the next two. When his first ever World Cup innings finally began, gone was the scramble-minded plodder that had been his limited-overs avatar for much of the past 18 months. Returned was the blinding homespun talent that had seen him marked out as a future star four years ago. But he is luckless. Here, he was playing the one-day innings of his life, setting Sri Lanka on track for a famous chase, but just as his fifty beckoned, his right hamstring decided to snap. For a while Chandimal refused to accept his fate. He hobbled between the stumps to complete Sri Lanka’s quickest World Cup fifty at the time, pleaded with Angelo Mathews to be allowed to stay on the field despite the injury. Even when Mathews told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was to leave, Chandimal just turned around and took guard for another ball. He would limp through for one more single before finally accepting his fate. Sri Lanka would lose that match. His World Cup dream, for now, was ended.