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Plays of the day from the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi
April 16, 2014
The start of a league match is usually preceded by an exuberant welcome to fans by Ravi Shastri. "We are united in the United Arab Emirates," he shouted in Abu Dhabi, just before Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma spun the coin. Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir called 'heads', and match referee Andy Pycroft deemed it to have come down as 'tails'. It was only when Shastri asked again and the camera zoomed in on the coin that Pycroft realised it was actually 'heads'. For a tournament mired in controversy, it was ironic that the season began with a misstep at the toss.
Lasith Malinga's unplayable toe-crushers have made him a Twenty20 superstar, and a rich man. It took him only four balls to show off that ability and an already struggling Gautam Gambhir had no clue against it. The Kolkata captain, who had scored nothing in seven deliveries, managed to get his toes out of harm's way but couldn't prevent the ball from crashing into the base of his stumps.
Malinga may be a fan favourite, but he is unlikely to be a favourite of any fielding coach. In the 14th over, Jacques Kallis flicked a full ball towards short fine leg. It reached Malinga at waist-height, at not too great a pace, and he didn't have to move to reach it - all combining to make it a pretty comfortable take. Malinga made a hash of it, though, letting it through his fingers to reprieve Kallis on 34. Mumbai have had perhaps the greatest fielder of all time, Jonty Rhodes, as their fielding coach for years, but the lessons don't seem to have worked on Malinga.
Suryakumar Yadav had been with the Mumbai side till last season, and he showed them what they are missing when he came out to bat for Kolkata. In the final over, he walked down the track to launch Corey Anderson to the deep-backward square leg boundary, before following it up with the shot of the innings - a nonchalant reverse-flick that sent the ball fine past the keeper for four more.
The second chance
Robin Uthappa is not a regular wicketkeeper, and it showed as he faced up to the variations of Sunil Narine, struggling at times to pick which way the ball would turn. It wasn't collecting the ball that caused the problem in the 17th over, after Ambati Rayudu was baffled by Narine. Uthappa had the ball in his gloves, Rayudu was well out, but Uthappa missed the stumps on his first attempt to break them. He connected on the second time, though, with Rayudu still well out. Uthappa clearly enjoyed the dismissal, evidenced by a ebullient, fist-pumping celebration.
When Kieron Pollard walked in to bat in the 16th over, the game was nearly out of Mumbai's grasp. He came in with Morne Morkel delivering an intense spell, and was greeted by a shortish ball that reared up at him. Pollard put up an unconvincing attempted defence, and was struck on the wrist causing his watch to shatter into several pieces. It prompted a barrage of jokes over how he will time the ball, but Mumbai will probably be more concerned about timing Pollard's entry in the innings so that his power-hitting isn't wasted.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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