India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 1st day February 14, 2010

Namaste, Harris

N Hunter

Petersen pierces the field
Silly point, short cover, and extra cover were in place as Amit Mishra tossed up a legbreak on middle and off stump. Alviro Petersen, a debutant, took on the challenge, strode forward and drove handsomely to the boundary. It was easily the shot of the in morning.

Mishra kicks dust
The last ball of the same over was a straighter one that pitched on middle stump, held its line and, as Hawk-Eye indicated, probably would have hit between middle and leg. But when the umpire turned down Mishra's vociferous appeal, he couldn't believe it and raised his arms and shrieked. He had bowled 53 overs without a wicket in Nagpur and continued to toil.

Laxman drops a sitter
They don't come much easier. Hashim Amla tried to cut a delivery outside off from Harbhajan Singh but the outside edge travelled straight to VVS Laxman at first slip. He juggled thrice but couldn't hold on. He made amends, though, by running from first slip towards short third man to catch Jacques Kallis, also off Harbhajan.

Spell of the day
4-1-12-0. It was delivered by Ishant Sharma, whose first spell in the afternoon was about half hour before tea. Until then, play had been dominated by Petersen and Amla. Maintaining speeds between 129 and 140 kph, Ishant pitched accurately - short of a length on the off-stump line. Even Amla, who had survived 100 overs in the series till then, was hopping and skipping as he tried to fend off Ishant's snorters, one of which hit him on the hips. It was a crucial spell because the runs dried up for the first time in the day.

Blunder of the day
After Petersen's departure on the brink of tea, South Africa needed Amla to extend his vigil. He was more aggressive today compared to Nagpur and had stepped out dangerously against Harbhajan but got away. There were a few misses as he tried to upper-cut Ishant during his hot spell as well. But off the fourth ball after tea, an away-going short delivery from Zaheer, Amla went for an unnecessary pull, and the edge travelled into MS Dhoni's gloves.

Harbhajan's tent
As soon as Harbhajan trapped Ashwell Prince and JP Duminy off consecutive deliveries, Dhoni set a tent-like field to help his spinner take a hat-trick. Men had already been positioned at first slip, silly point and short leg, and joining them now were a leg slip and an additional slip. Memories of 2001 returned as Harbhajan charged in to claim a dramatic hat-trick. Even as Dale Steyn survived the ball, the ring of close fielders jumped up and appealed in unison out of sheer excitement.

Namaste, Harris sahib
India did not forget Paul Harris' choking lines and lengths in the first Test as well as his quips to mentally disintegrate them. So Zaheer, having just run out AB de Villiers, walked alongside Harris, the new man, as he stepped into the raucous Eden Gardens. Next, Ishant did not waste time in bowling in the channel and repeatedly breathed under Harris' nose. Smiles and words were exchanged. Harris tried to stay calm, but the pressure was relentless, and he eventually edged a delivery that shaped away a bit. Ishant bowed dramatically with folded hands (traditional Indian greeting 'namaste') to see the South African out.