Daring Davy and mercurial Munaf
Paul Valthaty could do no wrong in IPL 2011, or so it seemed. He spent the first two weeks competing with Sachin Tendulkar for the orange cap. He even got the dropped chances when needed. How would he fare against a strong Mumbai Indians attack today in the city where he grew up playing? As it transpired, he was sorted out right from the beginning. His troubles against Lasith Malinga summed up his day. He faced eight deliveries from Malinga, and managed an inside-edged single to fine leg. The first three deliveries were expectedly full and furious. Beaten. Leading edge. Inside edge. The next three were short. Fended away. Beaten. Left alone. Another full delivery. Beaten. As if to leave a final mark, Malinga gave him the full-blooded yorker next. Jabbed away. End of contest.
Davy Jacobs has made a habit of standing up to the fast bowlers. It is a brave endeavour, and can get problematic, as he found out today. Off the first ball he stood up to seam, he got a sickening blow on his thumb off a length ball from Munaf Patel, and went down in pain. He stood up, but did not go back. Four balls later, he pulled off a sharp take as another Munaf delivery took off outside off stump. In Munaf's next over, a short of a length delivery reared up, beating both the batsman and Jacobs, who had no chance to collect it from close up. That was the end of his stay there, and he promptly went back after that.
At his best, Munaf is steady in the field, and at worst, pedestrian. The entire range was on view today. He impressed Sachin Tendulkar enough to be posted at cover after rushing to his right to stop a boundary at third man. And right away, a low chance off a Valthaty mishit arrived. Munaf laboured forward, lunged forward late, and dropped it. Two overs later, Valthaty sliced towards sweeper cover. But Munaf's inertia had him rooted to the ground. He made no effort to go for the ball, stood motionless and allowed the would-be chance to come to him on the bounce. In another two overs, the nimbler version of Munaf resurfaced, as he saved another boundary with furious running at sweeper cover. But the listless Munaf was to win 3-2: he got down late to a Shaun Marsh hit, and conceded a boundary.
Ambati Rayudu was going hard at everything towards the end of his innings, and Kieron Pollard goes hard at all times. It can be dangerous for bowlers who find themselves in the firing line. They have to instinctively go for the missiles flying at their faces, and risk injuring their hands. On top of that, if they fail to hold on, it goes down as a dropped chance. Bhargav Bhatt and Piyush Chawla got in the way of powerful shots from Rayudu and Pollard, and were fortunate to get away without serious damage to their hands. Pollard's hit even managed to fly to the boundary through Chawla's hands.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo