Cape Cobras v New South Wales, CLT20, Chennai

A case of butterfingers at mid-on

ESPNcricinfo presents plays of the day for the Cape Cobras v New South Wales CLT20 game

Nitin Sundar at the MA Chidambaram Stadium

September 24, 2011

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Cobras celebrate the big wicket of Shane Watson, Cape Cobras v New South Wales, Champions League T20, Chennai, September 24, 2011
Robin Peterson castled the marauding Shane Watson in his second spell © AFP
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The eternal optimist
Chennai is notorious for its heat and humidity. The weather channel calibrated the temperature at the start of the match at 32 degrees (with a disclaimer that it "feels like 35") and humidity in the high 60s (which also seemed an understatement). Chennai was close to its sweltering worst when the captains came out for the toss. The resident DJ chose a fittingly optimistic refrain for the day - Tonight's gonna be a good night - and sure enough, things got better as the sun went down. The largely empty stands at the start of the day began to fill out by early evening, as the crowd that was hiding from the sun turned out to welcome the stars.

The emphatic move
Robin Peterson must have been aching for the new ball from the moment he landed in Chennai. The last time he bowled here, in the World Cup against England, he got the wickets of Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen in the first over of the match, and dismissed Ian Bell soon after. Sure enough, he got first use of the shiny white cherry today, and this time he was up against that destroyer of left-arm spin - Shane Watson. That didn't deter Peterson from placing a short-leg in place. In the first over. Of a Twenty20 match. The confidence wasn't misplaced either - Peterson came back in his second spell to castle the marauding Watson.

The mid-on misses
The game was billed as a Steyn v Watson battle, and the bowler nearly made it a no-contest in the second over of the game. Watson was sucked into driving a slower ball uppishly, and the miscue was headed straight into Vernon Philander's lap at mid-on. Except that the fielder failed to pouch it. In the next over, Owais Shah spilt a one-handed attempt that should have been held. The aggrieved bowler was Charl Langeveldt, the batsman David Warner, but the crime scene remained the accursed mid-on. The epidemic spread soon to midwicket, where Peterson clanged another sitter that should have been gobbled. What was that again about cobras swallowing their prey whole?

The bouncer
It soon became evident that the pitch was in keeping with Chepauk's time-honoured tradition of slow turners. It was so slow that it prompted both teams to open with spinners. It was so slow that the world's best fast bowler chose to deal exclusively in slower balls in his second spell. But it wasn't slow enough to contain the enthusiasm of an 18-year-old. Patrick Cummins charged in for the third over of the chase and opened his spell with a short ball. The next one was a no-holds-barred bouncer. It clocked 135 kph (surely another meter that was understating it?), thudded halfway into the track and took off at great pace, past Gibbs and almost over the leaping wicketkeeper's head. In his next over, Starc got Gibbs top-edging the pull, but the sheer pace of the ball carried it over fine-leg. What was that again about sluggish wickets?

The clone
Many observers have pointed out the uncanny similarities in the bowling actions of the Mitchells, Starc and Johnson. Today, Starc added another dimension to the similarity by bowling an over that featured the complete unpredictability that Johnson has become notorious for. Starc's second over began with a short ball that was mishit. Richard Levi pounded the next delivery, a listlessly short offering, over deep square leg. The follow-up ball erred magnanimously on the fuller side, and Levi drilled it through the covers. The fourth was a slower delivery that slipped out too short, and Levi somehow missed it. The fifth was a juicy full toss that was rammed straight to a fielder. The last ball didn't escape punishment though: a misdirected slower ball that was duly deposited over mid-on. Fourteen came off that over despite three misses from the batsmen. Cobras were on their way and New South Wales quickly descended into the Blues.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Nitin Sundar Social media manager Nitin spent his formative years perfecting the art of landing the googly, before blossoming into a book-cricket specialist. More excellence followed in the underarm version of the game before, like the majority of India's misguided youth, he started taking studies seriously. After four forgettable years of electrical engineering, followed by a rigorous MBA and 16 months in the strategy consulting industry, he began to ponder life's more profound issues. Such as the angle made by Brian Lara's bat with the horizontal at the peak of his back-lift. A move to ESPNcricinfo followed and Nitin is now a prolific nurdler in office cricket, with a questionable technique against the short ball.
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