India v South Africa, 3rd Test, Kanpur, 1st day April 11, 2008

The bouncer that wasn't, and a lot of late spin

Sourav Ganguly lies flat after being copped by Hashim Amla © AFP

The bouncer that didn't bounce
There was concern before the start of the match that this track, given the cracks, might just turn out to be dangerous to the physical well-being of the batsmen. Any such fears were dispelled when Ishant Sharma, bowling between 135-140ks, could get most of his deliveries to end up ankle high for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had come up a bit for him. Nothing summed the low bounce better than the attempted bouncer by Ishant in the fourth over. Dug in his own half, the ball came up till Neil McKenzie's waist, who accepted the unwrapped gift from outside the off stump, and hit it past mid-on.

How early is too early?
Given that Sreesanth and Ishant were spraying the new ball around in the first three or four overs, not utilising the low bounce, it was surprising that Dhoni took 47 minutes and eight overs before falling upon Harbhajan Singh. Perhaps he wanted the pacers to stay on until they created enough rough. But once Harbhajan came, he stayed. He bowled 15 overs without break, from No. 8 to 36, and came back on in the 50th. In all, the medium-pacers bowled 15 overs out of the first 50.

The blow
Hashim Amla is usually a delicate batsman who doesn't really rely on power for his runs. But the one shot he got down to give an almighty swing to, had lethal results. When he swept Harbjajan, the ball was headed only one way and that was smack into Sourav Ganguly at forward short leg. He showed superb reflexes to turn around, and that must have saved him as the ball struck him flush on the helmet. Ganguly went off for about a session, came back, and took a swirling skier at midwicket.

Bailed out
Harbhajan, Jacques Kallis, and the bails seem to have started an interesting three-way relationship, which sometimes leaves Harbhajan frustrated and sometimes Kallis. After Harbhajan suffered from the bails that wouldn't budge in Ahmedabad, Kallis suffered the agony this time. Moving back and across to a big off-break, Kallis would have thought he had done well to cover it, but the ball hit his thigh, then the back of his gloves, and then gently, cruelly on to the stumps. The bail fell this time.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo