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Anand Vasu in Kolkata
November 30, 2007
Now you see him ...
Dinesh Karthik's nightmare continued and it took Sohail Tanvir only one ball to coax an edge from a rather eager and worried batsman. Pressing forward and not getting across at all, Karthik shaved a full ball that was merely slanting away from him straight to Younis Khan at slip. If you score runs when everyone else is failing, it emphasises your quality, and similarly there's nothing that makes you look worse than failing when others are in the runs. For Karthik the wait in the dressing room, and then on the field, could be a long one before he has another chance to make an impact.
Four in one go
The only fully fit fast bowler in the Pakistan attack was Tanvir, but curiously he was the most expensive as well, for the best part. Unsure of exactly what line to bowl, based on the field he was given, Tanvir was smacked for fours off the first, second, third and fifth deliveries of the 23rd over. A back-foot punch through cover, a drive back down the ground, a forcing shot through point and a flick through midwicket and aside from the pull Jaffer had shown pretty much his whole repertoire in one over.
On a pitch that was a nightmare for bowlers - normally the strip at the Eden Gardens at least provides some juice early on - and once a batsman got in it was hard to work out how a bowler would dislodge him. Jaffer and Rahul Dravid bedded down with such ease that it seemed a run-out would be the most likely to break the partnership. That was till Billy Doctrove intervened. On exactly 50, and looking good for a whole lot more, Dravid drove inside out at a ball that was tossed up, bat struck ground, ball turned well past bat and lodged between Kamran Akmal's arm and body, and the loud shout was upheld. Once again Dravid's innings had been curtailed when he looked untroubled at the crease.
Banned? Who, me?
There was a time when Mohammad Azharuddin could not go to a cricket ground without raising controversy. When he travelled to Sri Lanka to give his expert comments for a television channel, not long ago, a hue and cry ensued, with everyone from the Board of Control for Cricket in India to the International Cricket Council being asked questions about how a person banned for his alleged involvement in match-fixing could be accredited and allowed to do work from the grounds. How things have changed. At the tea break on the first day Azhar was taken for a spin on the outfield on a golf cart, presumably by the Cricket Association of Bengal, cheered all the way by the crowd.
Can't catch a ...
It's no wonder Kamran Akmal is fully fit despite all the flu and chest infections and sore throats going round the Pakistan team. At the moment, he's just living out that cruel descriptor, where he can't catch even a cold. Statisticians have given up counting his dropped catches, and on a pitch that was so unresponsive that it forced Tanvir to turn to left-arm spin, Akmal dropped a clanger. Mohammad Sami bent his back and managed to get one to hurry onto Tendulkar, who half-heartedly attempted an upper cut. The ball just lobbed up towards Akmal, who put his right hand out and palmed the ball past the slip fielder.
With the ball in hand, even arms flailing and legs pumping in several different directions, Kaneria appears to be in control of what he is doing. And he certainly was when he landed a perfectly pitched googly that fooled Tendulkar into playing an expansive drive and turned in to bowl the batsman through the gate. But there's another Kaneria, the one who fields, who looks like he's going to injure himself at any moment. And he did, in the dying moments of the day, chasing after a straight drive from Sourav Ganguly, half-sliding, half-diving and generally getting stuck in the ground. He limped off the field, and fortunately for Pakistan this hadn't happened earlier in the day, though Kaneria consistently threatened to do just this with one of the most unacrobatic dives you're likely to see on a cricket field.