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Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in Chennai
March 26, 2008
A late single
Opening batsmen usually prefer to get set with a few quick singles - experts talk of the importance of getting the blood circulation going - but Neil McKenzie began by dealing in boundaries. His first 20 came exclusively in fours and it was only in the fifth ball of the 10th over, from Sreesanth, that he pocketed his first single.
Miss of the day
Full and outside off, swinging in, past the inside edge, through to the wicketkeeper, appeal, dropped, not given. It was an interesting passage of play in what was turning into a dreary session. In the first ball of the 31st over, Sreesanth beat Graeme Smith with one that swung back in. Mahendra Singh Dhoni dived to his right but couldn't latch on cleanly to a low chance. He seemed to have the ball in his grasp but lost control at the last moment. Had he dropped it? Those of us in the press box thought Asad Rauf, the umpire, didn't detect the edge, because he didn't consult the square-leg umpire with doubts over the catch. The snickometer, for the record, showed that the ball had deflected off the bat.
Drill, slash, drill, slash
An over after the close appeal, Sreesanth felt the brunt of Smith's assault. As the bowler lost his rhythm, Smith reeled off four after four. The first, a rank full toss, was pummelled down the ground while the second and fourth, both wide ones, were cut away with power. The third, though, was the shot of the day: Smith took a few steps down the ground, met the ball on the half-volley, and pounded the ball between cover and mid-off.
For someone who has often said it's the umpires' job to give batsmen out, Jacques Kallis surprised a few by walking before he was adjudged out. Pushing tentatively at a flighted one from Harbhajan, Kallis saw the ball ricochet off the inside edge onto the pads before ballooning up to Wasim Jaffer at short leg. Rauf was unmoved on hearing the appeal but Harbhajan soon had a bemused look on his face when Kallis turned around and walked. And this from a batsman who has long maintained that it was the umpires' job to give batsmen out. Refreshing.
Jumbo takes off
It took the seniormost player on the field to come up with the day's most athletic effort. As the day was meandering towards stumps, Anil Kumble showed his quicksilver reflexes. Ashwell Prince, on the back foot, chipped a googly back but Kumble intercepted the ball with an alert dive to his left. Hand outstretched, he threw himself in front of Amla, the non-striker, and held on to a fantastic one-handed catch.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
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