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April 4, 2010
On the dime
Confidence is coursing through Anil Kumble's veins at present. Today, after losing the toss on a flat track, he decided to open the bowling against two devastating batsmen. David Warner was away first ball with a tucked single to square, bringing Virender Sehwag - short of a few runs - on strike. Kumble began with a flipper on the pads which Sehwag failed to connect with. Sehwag missed the second ball while attempting a feisty drive. The third had some flight on it and he drove straight to a fielder. The fifth too was unable to pierce the strong off-side field and the sixth yielded just a single toward deep cover. That was a top over from a veteran slow bowler against two men who feast on spin.
Six and out
No reference to the band that Brett Lee used to be part of. Abhimanyu Mithun's career has progressed rapidly over the past season, with a superb debut Ranji Trophy season leading to an ODI cap. He hadn't been a part of his home city's IPL side until this evening, and the young quick made an immediate impact. Not with his first ball, however, which Sehwag carved over six, but with his second. Mithun pulled back the length and got the short ball to follow Sehwag, who for the umpteenth time in his career ended up chopping it onto his stumps. Mithun let out a roar that matched what the Kotla faithful had been bellowing during Sehwag's all too brief cameo.
Royal Challengers Bangalore's second draft for this match also made his presence felt early in the piece, contributing to send back the other dangerous local Delhi batsman. Warner got cramped by a Jacques Kallis delivery and bunted it to toward cover, where KP Appanna - another hometown boy - ran in and took out the stumps with a direct hit to run-out Gautam Gambhir.
One for the classic catches series
Dinesh Karthik's eyes would have lit up when he saw a wide and short ball from Appanna. He wouldn't have known, though, that when he smashed that one towards cover, Cameron White would fling himself to his left, get to the ball with both hands, and bring off a stunning catch very low to the ground.
A experiment gone awry
Unfortunately for Bangalore, White was nowhere as sharp when he was given the ball right after that catch. There's a reason why White hasn't bowled himself much during Victoria's domestic season. Ricky Ponting also hasn't turned to him when he's played limited-overs for Australia of late, and even White seemed a bit surprised that Kumble had picked him to deliver the 12th over. His third ball was so wide outside off that Steve Harmison would have laughed, and when White sent down some embarrassing half-trackers Paul Collingwood thumped two sixes and a four to round off a potentially game-changing 19-run over. That's one experiment we won't be seeing any more of.
What a letdown
White got a chance to redeem himself when he was promoted to open with Kallis, but he barely managed to get into first gear. After facing eight deliveries for just four singles, and swiping and swishing plenty, White finally connected to one. Up over cover it went, and settled into the specialist long-off Warner's hands.
One can understand that Kallis, the leading run scorer this season, had been instructed to bat out the innings but what was Kevin Pietersen doing? He could not time the ball off the square and indulged in singles against some disciplined bowling from Delhi's medium-pacer pair of Rajat Bhatia and Pradeep Sangwan. After scratching his way to 16 off 18 balls, Pietersen was put out of his misery on the 19th - a lovely yorker from Sangwan that crashed into the stumps.
Men at work
Time was when a running catch on the edge of the cricket field used to get the adrenalin pumping. But in this time of Twenty20, it's not just cool to take a catch on the run. You have to give it your damndest. What R Sathish, Angelo Mathews and Adam Voges did in the ICL and international Twenty20s over the past two seasons has become all the rage in the IPL. David Hussey and Doug Bollinger pulled off incredible leaping, relaying and parried catches this week and today Warner tried and just failed to become the third Aussie to add one to the collection. He leapt back to try and catch a big hit from Kallis, lost balance, lobbed the ball up, balanced himself and took the catch but immediately signaled that he was not sure whether his back foot had made contact with the rope. Replays showed that it indeed had, and Warner shrugged his shoulder. But it truly is a sign of the times when such efforts are being made with regularity.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?