India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 3rd day

The slowest of bouncers and a cruel quirk of fate

Plays of the day from the third day of the first Test between India and Australia in Bangalore

Sidharth Monga at the Chinnaswamy Stadium

October 11, 2010

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Mitchell Johnson ends Cheteshwar Pujara's maiden innings, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 3rd day, October 11, 2010
Fate and bad bounce conspire against Cheteshwar Pujara © AFP
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The miss
Australia might have shown characteristic grit on this tour, but they have been quite average in the field. After dropped catches and a missed stumping in Mohali, the fielding mishaps continued in Bangalore. The costly one was in the fourth over of the day when M Vijay was halfway down the pitch, and the ball with Nathan Hauritz at cover. Hauritz, though, didn't realise that Tim Paine had made it to the stumps, and shied at them instead, unsuccessfully. Had he lobbed the ball back to Paine, Vjay would have been dismissed for 49.

The overthrows
These were not as poignant as Steven Smith's in the previous match. They did, however, involve not knowing the whereabouts of the keeper. Peter George fielded a straight hit to him at mid-off and must have presumed that Paine wouldn't have made it to the stumps when he lobbed one towards him. Either that or he must have thought Paine would be as tall as himself, as the ball sailed well over the wicketkeeper's head for four overthrows.

The extreme slowness
You may have seen the slower bouncers, but this one was the real deal. George, all of two metres tall, dug one in short to Sachin Tendulkar, rolling his fingers on it, looking to get something out of the docile pitch. The problem was that it landed at his own shoe laces, and the result was a bouncer so slow, Inzamam-ul-Haq would have walked back faster than it. It came like a balloon that had been punctured midway, and Tendulkar had to be on his best defence to keep it out. Needless to say, there were laughs all around, even from the umpires.

The temptation
In the dying moments of the day, with light fading fast, Ricky Ponting showed Suresh Raina the carrot. With Michael Clarke bowling gentle left-arm spin, he brought the long-on in, showing Raina an opportunity for an easy boundary. Raina latched onto it first ball, only to get too close to the pitch and perfectly find Hilfenhaus' hands at mid-on. Moves rarely produce quicker results.

The cruelty
So you have finally got the Test cap after a couple of seasons of heavy run-scoring in domestic cricket? You have cover-driven your second ball for four. So you feel at home? The pitch doesn't think so. The third ball Cheteshwar Pujara faced stayed nastily low and was nastily accurate. And to think that he spent three days watching batsmen make merry on the same 22 yards. He may not get a chance in the second innings, and by the time India play another Test, VVS Laxman, whom he replaced, might be back.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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