ICC World Twenty20 / News

Plays of the day

Lost balls, and wounded Polly

S Rajesh at the Wanderers

September 11, 2007

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Chris Gayle did not let the bowlers settle down © Getty Images
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New balls, please
Chris Gayle had already smashed five sixes before the tenth over got underway, but he saved his biggest of the evening for Albie Morkel. Seeing the manner in which the short balls had been dismissed earlier, Morkel tried to pitch it up, lost the plot slightly, and sent down a full toss. Gayle needed no second invitation: the right leg moved outside leg as he gave himself room, and the result was a savage carve over backward point, well over the stands outside the ground. Normally, that would have held up play for at least a minute, but here, umpire Darryl Harper, standing at square leg, scurried across even as the reserve umpire, Karl Hurter, rolled another ball onto the ground. The delay hardly lasted five seconds, and play was ready to resume even before you'd realised the ball had been changed.

Wounded Polly
Everyone in South Africa loves Shaun Pollock - there were huge cheers every time he hit the stump while bowling in practice just before play began - but not much went right for him when it was his turn to bowl in the middle. Gayle took him apart completely, but his one little moment to savour in that hopelessly one-sided battle came in over number 12: a painfully slow bouncer pitched in the middle of the track, climbed and then looped down even as it was reaching the batsman, Gayle, and so flummoxed him that he could only watch transfixed as it lobbed past him to the wicketkeeper. Pollock and the crowd loved that bit of deception. Unfortunately for them, the rest of the went decisively against good ol' Polly, who was left nursing rather embarrassing bowling figures by the end of the day.

Butterfingers
A target of 206 should have been difficult, but West Indies decided to play gracious guests. Dwayne Bravo started the rot, allowing the ball to pop out from his hands to give Gibbs a reprieve at 20; the virus then spread to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who spilled an admittedly difficult chance from Gibbs; Marlon Samuels then capped a miserable day for West Indies in the field by dropping a sitter off Justin Kemp. Add all the wides sent down, and it's easy to see why they lost.

Eyeball to eyeball
It might be all fun and music for the crowd, but a couple of incidents in the match showed that Twenty20 is serious business. Daren Powell started off with a vicious short ball which caused Graeme Smith immense discomfort, and then began a glaring contest with Gibbs, who is never one to back away. Fidel Edwards then continued the eyeball confrontation, sometimes bowling with such searing pace that the ball was still climbing when it reached the wicketkeeper.

Ramdin to the rescue
The game was all about bat hitting ball and ball disappearing beyond the boundary, but there was one other performance that stood out too. West Indies' bowlers, perhaps not satisfied with a format that only allows each of them 24 deliveries, bowled wide after wide, and Denesh Ramdin darted around like a dervish, gathering most of them cleanly. In the fifth over, when Daren Powell lost control altogether, Ramdin saved four byes by moving down leg side and then diving full length to make a clean gather. A few overs later, standing up to Dwayne Smith, he was at it again, making a clean take way down leg despite being blinded by the batsman. The catch he took to dismiss AB de Villiers capped a fine night's work for him. If only the same could have been said of the rest of the West Indian performance in the field.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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