Plays of the day July 24, 2008

Mahela's MCG and bad reviews

Every time Mahela Jayawardene walks out to bat at the SSC, a century seems assured © AFP

Two drops in a run ocean
Mahela Jayawardene needs no invitation to score at the SSC, where he already has more runs than many manage in an entire career. To drop him once then would be unfortunate. To do it twice could only be termed masochistic. When he was on 55, Dinesh Karthik failed to hold on to a bottom edge off Anil Kumble, and he had added 38 more when Karthik fluffed another opportunity, this time after a legbreak turned enough to take the outside edge. Kumble's anguished yell said it all.

Mahela's MCG
Between 1928 and 1948, Sir Donald Bradman scored nine centuries in the 11 Tests he played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This was Jayawardene's 20th Test at this venue, and a single to wide mid-on gave him a share of that record. The last four times he's walked out to bat here, he's left the crease only after making a century. Even Bradman didn't manage that.

Sliding away
Malinda Warnapura had made just 55 when he miscued one from Zaheer Khan back down the pitch. At chest height, Zaheer fumbled but managed to hold on. It didn't matter, because by then, a no-ball had been called. Replays showed that it was desperately close, with Zaheer's foot landing on the line and then sliding over. Such are the margins that separate a good day from a leather hunt.

Getting a bad review
We had to wait 45.4 overs for the first umpiring review. Harbhajan Singh, bowling round the wicket, got one to pitch on leg stump and straighten a touch to hit Warnapura on the pad. The third umpire, Rudi Koertzen, had enough replays to see, and after taking his advice and consulting Billy Doctrove as well, Mark Benson ruled in the batsman's favour. Warnapura celebrated the reprieve with a superb stroke through cover.

Flights of fancy
Harbhajan isn't known for flighting the ball much, and when he gave it a go against Jayawardene, you realised why the flatter trajectory is probably wiser on a pitch such as this. Like a golfer going for a hook shot, he picked the ball up from outside off stump and sent it soaring over the boundary at wide long-on. Not a shabby way to bring up yet another half-century against India.

Stand your ground
The new review system wasn't quite India's cup of Dilmah on the second day. Late in the evening, Zaheer Khan appealed successfully for a catch behind. Tillakaratne Dilshan stood his ground though, and after replays proved inconclusive, umpire Benson had no option but to reverse his decision.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo