Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2010, Mumbai March 13, 2010

Poor first day for Shaun Tait show

Cricinfo staff

The fastest bowler in cricket was in town. His tussle with Sachin Tendulkar had already created the buzz, and thousands braved the scorching afternoon sun to line up outside the Brabourne Stadium two hours before the scheduled start. Shaun Tait paced around marking his run-up minutes after Mumbai chose to bat, aware of the hype preceding his IPL debut.

The sense of drama was heightened further when Shane Warne delayed Tait's IPL baptism by asking Dmitri Mascarenhas to bowl the first over. Finally, when Tait charged in with his rhythmic run-up, he started poorly, slinging two wides behind Sanath Jayasuriya's legs. But his first legitimate ball nearly took out Jayasuriya, whose 40-year-old reflexes were too slow to pick the toe-crusher, and, if not for a bottom edge, the Sri Lankan's stumps would have been splayed. Unfortunately, Tait never repeated that delivery again in the innings.

Last evening, Adam Gilchrist, who used to keep wickets to Tait for Australia, had said raw pace on Indian pitches would be ineffective if the ball was not pitched in the right areas. It is a cliché, but it also happens to be one of the basic rules of fast bowling. Tendulkar had already knocked down Tait's challenge with two neatly tucked on-drives that raced to the ropes.

Once the big-name opening pair was dismissed, Tait had a golden opportunity to hit back by winning the smaller duels, like the one against another newcomer Aditya Tare. Instead of dominating Tare, Tait ended up being dominated as he bowled short on to the batsman's hips to begin with and later pitched it short on the off side, giving enough space for the batsman to free his arms.

Warne had already taken Kamran Khan out of the attack after his first over and was relying on Tait to halt Mumbai's charge. Last year, Kamran's debut IPL season was aborted after a few games due to a suspect action. By picking him today ahead of a senior bowler like Munaf Patel, Warne had taken a big gamble. Tait's inconsistency only added to the captain's worries.

Clearly, Tait was still struggling when he came back at death. Immediately, he sprayed five wides and then delivered half-volleys, picked and dispatched easily by the Mumbai batsmen.

In stark contrast, another bowler with a slingy action, Lasith Malinga, was at the top of his game at the Brabourne. Unlike Tait, who relied solely on pace, he allied accuracy to pace, making an instant impact. Pitching much fuller, Malinga suffocated the batsmen for space while smartly varying his speed all the time. The slower bouncer was deftly utilised - it even beat the marauding bat of Yusuf Pathan, the first centurion of the third IPL.

Malinga was brought in during the crunch moments and he did not disappoint. Unlike Warne, who had split Tait's four overs into two spells at the two ends of the innings, Tendulkar brought back Malinga for an over when Yusuf had just started his rampage and then for the crucial final over. Rajasthan had ransacked 62 runs in three overs, forcing Tendulkar to re-think his strategy. Next over, the 14th, Malinga came back and kept Paras Dogra tied for the first five balls before Yusuf biffed a resounding straight drive for four.

The atmosphere inside Brabourne had reached a crescendo when Malinga returned to deliver the final over, which he started with an athletic run-out of Dogra, followed by Amit Uniyal playing on to the stumps. Chants of "Malinga, Malinga" reverberated across the stadium as Rajasthan lost their steam. Tait sat in the dugout deflated, and could only appreciate the Sri Lankan's skills. "Malinga showed what you can do in the end and hopefully Shaun can learn from that," Warne said after the defeat.

In the absence of Shane Watson, Warne will rely heavily on Tait to make an impact. Perhaps, he got carried away today after his captain had sold him as the season's best-selling ticket. Tait needs to start delivering or he could end up as a flop show.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prasanth on March 14, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    Tait is quite overrated imho. He will be always a danger on assisting surfaces like any other fast bowler. But he seems to have little accuracy to complement his rocket speeds. Also I believe speedos in Australia are faulty because here he averaged in the mid 140s almost alltime, Even Ishant Sharma clocked above 150 kmph in Australia remember. Also Tait always seem to choke when up against premier quality batsmen like the Indians (Perth 2008) but will dominate against substandard batting lineups like Pakistan and West Indies.

  • Gopala on March 14, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    oh, tait DID make an impact yest.. he knocked out harbhajan for good.. thatz more than any fast bowler has ever managed! :D hope bhajji stays outta the ipl!

  • Mohan on March 14, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    Tait is a good bowler. Though he is fragile physically and mentally. Those 10 runs by Tendulkar destroyed him mentally. I guess with experience he will become better.

  • Armaan on March 14, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    I would say that Umar Gul is the best t20 bowler

  • Dummy4 on March 14, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    if tait had not bowled the 4 wides royals would have won the match

  • Dre on March 14, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    Never ever ever read too much into 4 overs. It's all about adjusting to the flatter tracks. It isn't as easy as it sounds. Some bowlers do it from ball1, some take 1/2 a season. Let's wait at least 2 games b-4 writing the quick off. For me he's one of the 1st names on my line up just because genuine quicks are far and few between.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2010, 19:31 GMT

    lasith malinga is million times better bowler than shaun tait......... tait is like a bullet with no accuracy whatsoever, and often nails to his own team... while malinga is like a target oriented missile.....he bowls yorkers at his will....... those slow bouncers are just awesome...........malinga is probably, the best bowler in t20's........

  • shahid on March 13, 2010, 18:53 GMT

    Tait is not just an express bowler, he is a good intelligent one too. Today was a bad day for him as could be seen from all those wides. I am sure he will come come good and live up to his reputation. And which ever wicket, indian or australian, speed is surely gonna make a huge difference, specially to those domestic players. He needs to find his lengths right and mix some variations. He is gonna be best in IPL3, just wait and see.

  • Manasvi on March 13, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    Tatit has never really performed that well against the Indian batsmen during the few opportunities he's had. He was expected to do well in Perth but he flopped badly. I think there are far too many expectations being placed leading to an increase in pressure, and his style of fast bowling is not conducive to Indian pitches. It doesn't matter even if he bowls at 160, he's got to have variation and keep it in the "right" areas and vary his line and length intelligently.

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