New Zealand v India, 1st ODI, Napier

Improvising Indians, and Dhoni's back-up plan

Sidharth Monga in Napier

March 3, 2009

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Virender Sehwag tumbles after colliding with Iain O'Brien © Getty Images
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The incident
Sachin Tendulkar called Virender Sehwag for a single, with the ball right at his feet, and both Sehwag and Ian O'Brien, the bowler, were headed the same way. O'Brien got a touch on Sehwag's back leg and the batsman tripped, still some distance from safety. O'Brien had a shy at the stumps and missed but would he have appealed if it had hit? At the end of the over, O'Brien slapped Sehwag's back in apology, which was duly accepted. The scene could have been tricky, though, if O'Brien had hit the stumps. Brings back memories of Grant Elliott and Ryan Sidebottom at The Oval.

The improvisations
You wouldn't be thinking Kyle Mills and reverse-sweep in the same thought, unless Mills is batting. Mahendra Singh Dhoni did that. In the 31st over, with the fine leg up, he got down on his knee and got a four with a regulation sweep. Fine leg went back and third man came up. He pulled out the reverse-sweep, connected perfectly, but could only place it just wide of short third-man for a single.

Suresh Raina came up with an improvisation of his own, opening the face of the bat to a Daniel Vettori yorker in the 33rd over, losing his footing and getting spread-eagled in the process. However, he managed to beat short third-man for a four.

Just in case
Even after three rain breaks, Dhoni was alert tonight. The first ball after the final break, Yuvraj got one to balloon off the back of Jacob Oram's bat. Dhoni completed the catch, and instead of celebrating or appealing, he made sure he took the bails off when Oram was still out of the crease. There are no referrals here, so better to be sure.

Just a game?
As the PA stadium informed the crowd of the tragedy in Pakistan, a hush fell on a cheery crowd. The same crowd had been treated to a quality 141 by Mahela Jayawardene nearly four years ago. Jayawardene was among those injured in Lahore, in what is believed to be a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team. The teams wore black armbands in the second innings. One couldn't escape the feeling that cricket is more than just a game.

The joke
During the rain break, a seated elderly gentleman told a youngster walking up in a stand: "You, you stay there." And the young man, not knowing what to do, stopped there. After about three-four seconds, the old man said, "Thank you, you blocked the wind." And the two had a good laugh.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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