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April 5, 2005
Rahul Dravid deflects an offbreak to the leg side and chances a single as the fielder at square leg, Mohammad Sami, darts in. In his haste to pick up the ball and throw Sami overruns the ball, and Dravid turns and charges around for a second run. Sami gets an earful from some of his team-mates, and Inzamam-ul-Haq has his hands on his hips as if to say, "Which cricketer at this level does that?"
Some overs later Yuvraj Singh flicks the ball to the left of Inzamam at midwicket and takes off. Inzamam, finding the ball on the side off his throwing arm and sensing the chance of a spectacular pick-up-and-throw, swoops down on the ball - upon it, and then past it. As he turns casually to clean up, he finds to his horror that Yuvraj is taking a second run, and is powerless to prevent it. Again all hands go on hips, while Inzamam tries to look like he is urgently contemplating an important bowling change.
All fall down
Every man on the field except Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has just completed a maiden hundred and is walking as tall as he has ever done, falls flat on the ground to avoid what seems be a swarm of bees. Billy Bowden, theatrical as ever, waggles his legs in the air as he smells the grass, although one will have to dredge out one's copy of the laws of the game to check is this is not some little-used signal for 'play held up due to emergency'. When the interruption is over some of the Pakistani fielders seem rather loath to get up again.
The ball in the sky
For most of the day the cricket ball is seen against the brown of the pitch or the green of the outfield, but when it is struck mightily by the batsman it can be glimpsed against the blue of the sky, and the soaring arc that it describes, accompanied by the ringing sound of the stroke, provides great satisfaction to both eye and ear. Virender Sehwag supplies just this pleasure when he launches a delivery high over the extra-cover boundary in the third over.
A cloud in the sky
A cloud hangs over the game at Visakhapatnam - not a metaphorical one, a real one. The ACA-VDCA ground at Visakhapatnam is surrounded by hills, and while no one notices clouds when they make their way lazily across the sky, their shapes making patterns of light and shadow over the hills are too distinct to miss. It is as if some gigantic presence is hovering over the ground, stopping by to take a look and then moving on.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?