Bangalore v Chennai, 1st qualifier, IPL 2011, Mumbai

A day that could have been much worse

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the IPL qualifier between Bangalore and Chennai in Mumbai

Sidharth Monga

May 24, 2011

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A concerned Suresh Raina checks R Ashwin after he took a blow to his head, Bangalore v Chennai, 1st qualifier, IPL 2011, Mumbai, May 24, 2011
Ashwin after taking the blow to his head © AFP

The six-and-out moment
The IPL nerds know it already. The batsmen are just about coming to terms with it. When you hit R Ashwin for a six, you stay careful for a while. For Ashwin has this habit of striking back immediately. He did the same to Chris Gayle today after being asked to bowl in the fourth over. Second ball six over midwicket, third ball caught in front by a slower offbreak. Virat Kohli showed better understanding of the intricacies of playing Ashwin, and hit him for a six only off the last ball of his third over. It gave that vengeful mind of Ashwin's some time to cool down.

The send-off
After getting Gayle out, Ashwin proceeded to make the cut-throat gesture with his right thumb. Now some might evoke the Undertaker here, but the true aficionados will tell you Ashwin wasn't quite the Dead Man. For starters, the Undertaker is so sure he makes that gesture before he goes for the kill. And then there is - or used to be - a certain chill to the Undertaker. To be fair to Ashwin, although the IPL will love to call itself sport-entertainment, it is not quite scripted. Unless somebody wants to prove otherwise.

The blow
This was bad enough to kill a man. Saurabh Tiwary - all his brutal power - drilled one back at Ashwin in the 18th over. Ashwin shaped up for a return catch, but was not ready for the pace the ball came to him at. It hit him smack in the head. So hard that the deflection flew to long-off. Ashwin came down like a sack of potatoes, and had a dazed look on his face. Bravely, though, he walked back on his own two feet, went for a scan, put a bandage on and sat in the dugout. He had also declared himself available to bat if Chennai needed him to.

The lbw/run-out
Finally a non-Ashwin moment. M Vijay seemed to be at the wrong end of a rare rough call from Simon Taufel when he was ruled out lbw to a delivery that pitched just outside leg stump. Lest you felt bad for Vijay, the man had charged halfway down the pitch - was that a guilty reflex? - while the ball had gone straight to Gayle at first slip. Had Taufel not given Vijay out, Gayle's direct hit would have had him.

The blow, part II
Overall not a good day for the physical well-being of the players. Amid various hits straight back at the bowler, Luke Pomersbach and Kohli, who had earlier put together a potentially match-winning 48-run stand, found time to collide with each other at the boundary. It was a pull from Suresh Raina that made the two - stationed at deep backward square leg and deep midwicket - collide. Both kept their eyes on the ball. Pomersbach slid, and Kohli charged. The result? Pomersbach's nose banged straight into Kohli's knee. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as the Steve Waugh-Jason Gillespie incident. Thankfully Ashwin got away with that hit on the head. This day could have been so much worse.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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