New Zealand v South Africa at Dunedin, 1st Test

The last two days I have written about the top two fastest ODI centuries in the knockout stages of a major tournament.

Today: number three.

The match: the Final of the 2011 World Cup.

As anyone who’s anyone knows, the match damn near bled intangible cricketing moments – it was soaked in players recognizing the situation and upping their game just one more notch to compensate.

The match was played in a pressure cooker, and a handful of players responded with the performances of their lives.

It also included a fabulous century from Sri Lankan batsman, Mahela Jayawardene, the third fastest ODI century in the knockout stage of a major tournament: and just like Clive Lloyd yesterday, it happened in the final of the World Cup.

Two out of the top three so far, amazing.

The scene: India v Sri Lanka. Mumbai, April the 2nd, 2011. 42,000 people at the Wankhede Stadium and the whole of India watching, the whole of world cricket watching…

I don’t need to go too much into detail, but Sri Lanka were 122-3 through 27.5 overs when Jayawardene strolled to the crease. He went on to score 103 runs off of only 88 balls, an efficient and much needed knock for Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately, he could not quite put together a long enough partnership to get his team over three hundred, and Sri Lanka ended at 274, setting an achievable target for India, the hosts.

Fortunately, however, Lasith Malinga also siezed the moment: getting Sehwag out lbw for a duck, and getting Tendulkar out for only 18.

But the final drop of magical waters were left for the captain, MS Dhoni, who hit a lovely 91 not-out off of 79 deliveries…

…and of course, he hitting the game winning runs with a magnificent six…

Go ahead, watch it again, you know you want to:

This is where we come to the crux of this whole argument, as Dhoni’s 91 will long be remembered as a phenomenal performance under the most extreme pressure imaginable, but Jayawardene’s is long forgotten, despite the fact that he hit that random number of 100, and that he did it under just as much pressure.

Well, not just as much, but still a great deal….

I am really enjoying researching these posts, but I don’t know how much I enjoy writing them, as I feel like they are one giant contradiction, a touch farcical, largely inaccurate, and a little aimless.

But I guess I am proving my own point from a few days ago: the only way to know which cricketers step up their game when it matters, is to watch a whole lot of cricket…

I will never forget Dhoni’s innings, surely, despite the fact that he didn’t reach a meaningless triple digit amount of runs.

Tomorrow, parts four and five, combined into one post.

*

On the pitch: test cricket!

So, if you will excuse me…

Until tomorrow.

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