The diamond duck
What length will you go for your IPL franchise? Jacques Kallis will risk possibly his first diamond duck in representative cricket. Until Saturday, he had never been dismissed without facing in any international format or even in the IPL. On Saturday, though, he initiated a single after Yusuf Pathan had hit straight to point. That risk - with only one stump visible to the fielder - is the done thing in Twenty20 cricket, but this time S Badrinath hit that only stump visible.
Manoj Tiwary, it seemed, was on a mission to settle Kallis' score. Without facing a ball, he ran Yusuf out. Yusuf, opening the innings and finally getting a start, bunted one into the leg side, Tiwary crossed the bowler, Dwayne Bravo, before he could get across to chase the ball, which meant the batsmen were at a distinct advantage. Bravo had to chase two-thirds of the way to the midwicket boundary, and Yusuf wanted the second. He heard no call from Tiwary, who hadn't moved. And just when Yusuf stopped midway, Tiwary saw a fumble, and went through again. Poor Yusuf was on a hiding to nothing.
MS Dhoni is a sly man behind the stumps. He has mastered a technique where his hands don't give when he collects the ball, giving him precious moments on run-out and stumping scenarios. His body language never gives away to the approaching batsman if the throw is coming at his end. That pursuit of perfection with these run-outs nearly cost him today.
In the 13th over, Debabrata Das was run out for all money when taking a second. The throw was a little wide, but not too wide. Dhoni wanted to optimise this too. He didn't want to get too far away from the stumps, and just took his eye off the ball for a microsecond to see where exactly the stumps were. Possibly he had given himself a range of width he could go to if he had to break the stumps in time. And his gloves went only as far as that range, and the ball was a little wider. Replays showed he had enough time, though, to collect the ball and run him out.
However, it cost Dhoni's side only one run. Das got too far across next ball, and was out lbw.
Before he got out, though, Das hit two sixes. One of them just about cleared long-on, and was falling between the rope and the dugout. There were chairs, there were tables, there were laptops, there were water bottles, and somewhere amid all that was Brett Lee, who coolly took it two-handed, never mind all those obstructions. A timely reminder to Knight Riders that there exists a breed called fast bowlers. They don't all have to take the pace off.
After Mohali, word has spread that Yusuf and Tiwary don't like the bouncer. Actually the word has been around, Mohali was just a reiteration. However, Eden Gardens has been renowned for slow and low tracks to suit the home spinners in the IPL. Turns out it helps the home batsmen too. The first ball Yusuf faced was pitched in the bowler's half, but rose only waist high. Yusuf smacked it four, and pulled two more for fours before Tiwary struck.