Reverse-sweeps that went wrong
It wasn't a good day for practitioners of one of the most popular unconventional shots in the game. Robin Uthappa got more than half his runs against Rajasthan against spin with that shot. Johan Botha got half his runs in IPL 2011 playing that shot. But today, both of them perished attempting the reverse-sweep. Uthappa had already reverse-swept Shane Warne for two fours in seven balls when he went for the shot again, to a ball landing well outside leg stump and bouncing. He top-edged, and the wicketkeeper completed the catch. During the chase, Botha had already reversed his stance to redirect Yuvraj Singh to third man, before trying the same against Rahul Sharma. It was fuller and quicker than he thought, though, and jammed into his boot before the bat could come down, leaving him plumb in front.
The lull after the storm
Uthappa v Warne was one of the most exciting mini-battles of the season. In eight balls of thrill-a-second action, it included two reverse-sweeps for fours, one sweep for four, one lofted flick for four, three near lbws, and finally a wicket. With Yuvraj walking out at Uthappa's dismissal, one expected the excitement to continue. Warne played along, tossing one up full and wide outside off. Yuvraj leaned out with intent, and the anticipation was unmistakeable. Will he drive against the spin? Will he loft him straight? Will he pop a return catch? None of that happened. Yuvraj shouldered arms. Anticlimax.
From the moment Ashok Menaria first appeared on the scene, he has been compared to Yuvraj. The same build and gait, the same demeanour, the same swagger that suggests extreme confidence, and even the tendency to bowl seemingly innocuous left-arm spin. Today Menaria played a shot straight out of the Yuvraj book of audacity. It was a pacy ball from Jerome Taylor, homing in on the pads from a length. Crouched stance in place, Menaria calmly skipped inside the line, and whip-lashed it with minimal effort for one of the biggest sixes of the match. It wasn't helping his team's cause, but the opposition captain would have approved of the execution.
Rahul Sharma got only two balls at the most illustrious Rahul to have played for India - Rahul Dravid. He dismissed him with the second, despite dropping it really short. Dravid went for the pull and hit it hard, but straight back at the bowler. Later in the day, the Taylors - Jerome and Ross - went up against each other. This time, Jerome could have dismissed Ross almost immediately. It was a length ball on the stumps, and Ross went for his bread-and-butter slap-slog over the leg side and mis-hit it. Two fielders converged from the deep, but it landed safe.
The unintended seamer
Not too many balls moved off the pitch on this slow and low Jaipur wicket, where both teams opened with spinners. Rajasthan's medium-pacers did not look to get the ball to move much, with Siddharth Trivedi resorting to slow offcutters, and Shane Watson to a bumper barrage. Later in the evening, though, one ball moved away magically off the seam. Alfonso Thomas angled in from slightly wide of the crease, and nipped it sharply away from Watson, who went for the drive and ended up edging it behind. Funnily, though, replays revealed that the movement was accidental. Thomas had released the ball with a crossed seam, and it happened to land on the thread and jag away.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo