Punjab made five changes to their playing XI today. The first to make an appearance was Love Ablish, the highest wicket-taker for his state side, Punjab, in the last Ranji Trophy season. Ablish would have known this venue pretty well, but today he bowled a nervous first over in the IPL, perhaps swayed by the fact that there was a full-house watching him run in. His first ball was short and wide and cut away for four. His fourth and fifth suffered the same fate as Ablish struggled to locate his radar.
Sangakkara the professional
Kumar Sangakkara has had a rough time in the field this IPL. But restored to where he should be, Sangakkara pulled off a smart stumping to deliver Punjab their third wicket. Piyush Chawla beat Saurabh Tiwary with a googly and even as the batsman's back foot dragged back Sangakkara had broken the sticks. Immediately he was away in celebration, confident of his handiwork. Replays soon confirmed that.
The smiling assassin
Piyush Chawla turned in his best outing of the season, and his third wicket was the biggest. Chawla earned plenty of recognition when he bowled Sachin Tendulkar with a clever googly in a Challenger Trophy match in 2005, and tonight he repeated the feat. The ball was tossed up and landed on a length, Tendulkar missed a big sweep and was bowled. Chawla allowed himself a tiny smile as he raised his arms in triumph.
The perfect dab
Barath has carved out quite a reputation for classical strokeplay, but the best shot he played tonight was a masterpiece of improvisation. When Harbhajan tossed one up full outside off stump, Barath made room, reached for the ball and steered it from almost in front of Ambati Rayudu's gloves. It sped away, neatly beating the men at gully and third man. Perfect.
Punjab have been unable to tie up loose ends - they bowled 17 extras the last time they played Mumbai - but tonight their bowlers pretty much had things in charge, so much so that the first extra didn't come until the middle of the 15th over - and it was a leg bye.
Some love lost
Later in the innings, Ablish put down a catch at long-off which didn't go down well with the bowler, Brett Lee. Kieron Pollard absolutely smashed the ball and the offering came hard and flat at Ablish, who was nearly taken apart by the impact. The catch went down and Lee stared at his fielder, shaking his head. It was a harsh reaction.
You hit, I york
Irfan Pathan tried a short ball at Pollard but at his gentle pace it was easy for the batsman to sit back and pull past midwicket for four. The next ball was a gem, however, and one that reminded viewers of an Irfan from a different era. And it had to be, because Sangakkara had dropped midwicket back and brought up fine leg and third man. Irfan delivered the perfect yorker, which snuck under Pollard's bat and hit the base of off stump.
Adam Gilchrist once noted that the utmost satisfaction about hitting a six is that the batsman knows that it's gone the distance a fraction of a second before the crowd does. JP Duminy would've really appreciated that feeling today. Until the 19th over, Mumbai had not cleared the ropes once, but when Lee bowled length, Duminy reached across his stumps and drag-swept the ball for a flat six over square leg. The success of the shot was in the exceptional use of Duminy's wrists.
Ablish was given a big task in his first game of this IPL: bowling the final over of Mumbai's innings. Given his nerves, this had the potential of being an expensive over, but the rookie used the slower ball to good effect. After two singles he got rid of Harbhajan Singh, who spooned a catch to Sangakkara, and cut down further on pace to bowl Ryan McLaren first ball. The over ended with Sangakkara collecting and running-out Duminy. It had cost just four runs and Ablish's first bowl in the IPL had ended a full turn from how it began.
Out or not?
Mahela Jayawardene drove a delivery from Lasith Malinga in the air toward mid-on, where Saurabh Tiwary took the catch. After tumbling over, Tiwary started to throw the ball up in celebration but it slipped out of his hand. Jayawardene had started to walk off but Adrian Barath called him back as there was some doubt about whether Tiwary had been in control. The umpires got together for a chat and it was soon decided that the fielder had been in control for enough time, and no replay was called for. Technology: it's either too much or too little.