India v West Indies, 1st Test, Kolkata, 2nd day November 7, 2013

The Best route to popularity

N Hunter
Plays from the second day of the first Test between India and West Indies in Kolkata

The gesture
Tino Best can evoke a lot of emotions in various people and is a rare character in cricket. On the second morning, after M Vijay tapped a ball back to him on the charge, Best reacted quickly on his follow through by throwing the ball over the batsman's head. That may have been Best's way of welcoming Vijay, but the early morning crowd cautioned the bowler with a collective scream. Smartly, as he walked towards his fielding position in the deep, Best folded both his hands to form a 'namaste'. The crowd, impressed with the gesture, applauded him loudly.

The salute
Bowling from wide of the crease with a sling-arm action, debutant Sheldon Cottrell pitched a well-directed bouncer at Cheteshwar Pujara. A vigilant Pujara arched his back to cope with the rising bounce and opened the face of his bat in an attempt to steer the ball over the slip cordon. The ball, however, deviated slightly after pitching and moved too close for Pujara's comfort. The nick went straight to the ecstatic wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. It took Cottrell a couple of seconds to realise he had his first wicket in Tests, but a big smile lit up his face and he celebrated with a salute towards the West Indies dressing room, a nod to the years he has spent with the Jamaican Defence Force as a soldier.

The Tendulkar moment
Thousands of fans had waited in long queues to buy tickets and watch Sachin Tendulkar bat in his penultimate match at the Eden Gardens. The moment arrived when Shane Shillingford had M Vijay stumped and the half-full Eden Gardens rose in unison to give Tendulkar a standing ovation. For the next 40 minutes Tendulkar's every move and stroke brought the fans immense pleasure. When he was out suddenly, they stood up again to applaud their favourite cricketer and planned to be back in a couple of days' time to get their money's worth.

The protective force
In the 56th over of the Indian innings, the eccentric Best tried to test Rohit Sharma, subjecting him to a verbal attack. Rohit was unperturbed by the bowler's sledges but, as Best moved closer to the batsman with every ball of the over, the crowd got behind Rohit and rose protectively to rebuke Best. Sensing that his ploy had failed, Best remained quiet for the rest of the afternoon.

The release
As the game neared the final hour of the second day, the Eden Gardens pitch became tricky offering low and uneven bounce. Shillingford utilised the conditions, and Rohit had to squat few times to defend shooter-like deliveries. Finally, on 76, Rohit decided to quell the challenge by charging at the offspinner and he lofted Shillingford over the midwicket fence for the first six of the Indian innings. It was a commanding shot that relieved Rohit's nerves as he approached a memorable century on debut.

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