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Sidharth Monga in Kanpur
April 12, 2008
Down with the arm guard
Morne Morkel produced the snorter of the day to dismiss India's most technically correct batsman. Bowled at a length, it brought Rahul Dravid forward to counter if it stayed low. But it kicked at him sharply. A lucky batsman would have escaped with a bruise, someone less fortunate would have edged it, but Dravid got hit on the glove strap and may have broken his wrist too. He dropped the bat in pain, didn't even look at the umpire for what the decision was, picked his bat and left after a brief pause. On the way back, in a mix of disappointment and agony after having fought for 106 balls, he threw the arm guard on the ground.
Sweeping ain't easy
The Indian batsmen took a completely different route to handling Paul Harris' spin than what the South Africans did for the Indian spinners. The sweep shot was conspicuous by its absence. The first sweep came from Sourav Ganguly, in the 43rd over. Well, it's not quite advisable to go down on one knee to Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, and Morne Morkel, but even Harris had bowled 14.2 overs before being swept, despite the dust on the wicket.
After 11 years and 113 Tests, Mark Boucher ran into perhaps his toughest assignment. Keeping wicket to Morkel and Harris was an absolute nightmare. Both bowled deliveries which either scooted very low to him, or climbed up alarmingly. Although he did well to the ones flying down the leg side, Boucher missed quite a few that bounced in front of him and also kicked abruptly. But when Yuvraj Singh padded up to one from Harris which pitched in the rough, Boucher was blinded and ended up getting hit on the helmet. The bad news for Boucher: things are only likely to get worse when he comes out to keep in the second innings.
Raising some hell
After being creamed away for two boundaries in his tenth over by Yuvraj, Dale Steyn dished out a bouncer which was negotiated with ease. But after the delivery, the two players kept moving towards each other, exchanging words that definitely weren't anything to the effect of "well bowled" or "well played". Ganguly intervened, and the umpires then spoke separately with Yuvraj and Steyn to defuse the situation. But the altercation brought the biggest cheer of the day from the Kanpur crowds.
Two sublime innings, two richly-deserved hundreds missed by 13 runs. Ganguly has the fight in him to make an Australian proud, but it can be left to statisticians to determine if any Australian has fallen to their bogey number two innings in a row. The way Ganguly got out, too, would point to superstition at work: given out when he hadn't edged the ball in Ahmedabad, and forced to go for his shots when left with tailenders for company in Kanpur. Add another score of 87 in ODIs - incidentally against South Africa in Vadodara in 1999-00 - and you have a streak neither Ganguly nor the Aussies would like.