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November 20, 2013
On the eve of their Group C tie, as the Maharashtra and Goa teams trained at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on the outskirts of Pune, Sachin Chaudhari was running in with a video camera ready to shoot his delivery stride from a close angle. The fast bowler had been called for an illegal action in Hyderabad last week, and the home camp was giving optimum attention towards remedying the bowler's action.
For the third consecutive day, Chaudhari, who regularly bowls above 135 kph, worked extensively with former Maharashtra coach Shaun Williams, who is now their director of cricket. Williams, who has also worked as the assistant coach of the Bangladesh side, has had the experience of working with a few bowlers with suspect actions, including Bangladesh's left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak. Though the Australian was convinced that Chaudhari does not bend his elbow more than the permissible limit of 15 degrees, he suggested that if the bowler released the ball before the straight line created by the front-foot stride, the umpires would not get the impression that his action was illegal.
"First and foremost, the video footage that we have examined, even of the balls for which he was called, shows that he was bowling as per the rules," Williams said. "Since his wrist is unusually supple, much like Muttiah Muralitharan's, to the naked eye it appears that he is bending him elbow rather than the wrist. Still, we have taken corrective measures and are hoping that he will be cleared by the BCCI at the earliest."
As a gesture of support, the Maharashtra selectors decided to retain Chaudhari in the squad despite the fact that he cannot play until his action is cleared. "We have this strong feeling that he's definitely not over 15 degrees. The exact balls that he was called were analysed in the software," coach Surendra Bhave said. "Shaun has worked on him. We've got the video documentation done and are hoping that it would expedite his return to bowling in first-class cricket; so it would have been just for the boy to be in the 15. He's not going to play this match but he's not going to be thrown out of the system."
Goa, on the other hand, didn't pay much heed to the frantic activity in the adjoining nets and focused on their training. Nuwan Zoysa, the former Sri Lanka new-ball bowler who is now a coaching consultant with Goa, bowled the longest spell among all bowlers, even longer than Chaudhari. And with the bounce that his height of 6'4" was extracting off the pitch, even the best Goa batsmen, like Swapnil Asnodkar and promising youngster Keenan Vaz, were struggling to combat him.
Zoysa would be hoping that the Goa batting unit, whose inconsistent performances have resulted in their team earning a solitary point from their two games, can turn the tide over the next four days.
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