The World Cup final redux
Brendon McCullum faced three balls from Mitchell Starc at the MCG on March 29. He faced three balls from Mitchell Starc at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on April 22. Facing off again in the first over, this time there was no tearing down the wicket. Starc went for that same full length, but he didn't quite have the accuracy on this occasion. The first ball took McCullum's pads and slid away for four leg byes. The second ball was a dot. In the World Cup final, Starc had nailed McCullum with his third ball, but McCullum was nailing him this time. Starc went full again, but he was a little wide, and the batsman carved him past point for four.
MS Dhoni's hard hitting has deserted him of late, but for one moment during his 13-ball innings, Dhoni made the ball a barely-visible white smudge again. In the 10th over, he spotted a slower wide one from David Wiese, and smoked it with a flat bat through the covers. The ball barely rose above a metre-and-a-half above the ground, but it bounced only once before crossing the boundary. The fielder at sweeper cover only needed to run a few metres to intercept the ball, but it whizzed by so quickly, he was in danger of injuring his hand, even if he had got close enough to it.
If over-the-shoulder catches are among the most difficult in the game, then airborne, overhead catches are harder. When Manvinder Bisla attempted to hit Ashish Nehra down the ground, he seemed to have got more than enough bat on ball to clear mid off, only one of the best fielders in the world was stationed there. Faf du Plessis backpedalled furiously from his post, and as the ball came down, sprung himself off his feet and threw his right arm up and behind him, like he was doing the backstroke. Somehow, he timed it well enough to collect the ball, and held it firmly enough even when his elbow and shoulder crashed into the turf.
The New Zealand impression
All through the World Cup, McCullum had made supporters nervous when he dived at full tilt across the boundary in pursuit of a ball. Wearing Super Kings yellow, he was no different at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, when in the third over he sped after a Bisla cut shot, and flung himself to the ground, managing to swipe the ball back infield just before it touched the rope. He went rolling into a tarpaulin beyond the boundary, but two other men had pursued the ball with him, and one of them threw the ball back, before they all congratulated each other, just like they do in the New Zealand side.