Free hit, free hit, and another free hit
Can't beat this. Three no-balls in a row for Brett Lee. Three free hits for the batsmen. For the first one, Robin Uthappa stepped away, read the short one well and sent it crashing over long-on for six. The second he swatted straight to mid-off for a single, while Gautam Gambhir drove the third straight into the hands of Andrew Symonds at backward point, who took the catch, which, of course, didn't result in a wicket as the delivery was a free hit.
Matter of respect
Harbhajan Singh is used to the customary booing each time he walks out to bat and in fact thrives on the hostile atmosphere. The asking-rate was almost two runs a ball and Harbhajan didn't buckle under the pressure. Stuart Clark bowled one short, slow and outside off, and Harbhajan slapped it effortlessly over cover. Next one he pushed to the vacant mid-on and scampered back for two but Uthappa had run one short. Clark showed his frustration by bowling wide down the leg side, giving away five runs. A straight delivery that followed was thrashed by Harbhajan over the bowler's head for four. Another double was stolen and by the time he exited after a delightful cameo of 20, he surely demanded more respect.
What the ...
He went down on his knees with both hands clasped behind his head. No, it didn't appear like a tennis champion after having won a Grand Slam, but more akin to the anguish of a footballer who's just missed the last kick in sudden death. Ricky Ponting had that look of dismay when his brilliant stop and throw from mid-off failed to hit the stumps. Irfan Pathan had taken on one of the best arms on the circuit and was lucky to survive.
Gilly scores a try, almost
Gautam Gambhir charged down the wicket to Nathan Bracken and got an inside edge, which sneaked towards the vacant fine-leg region. Adam Gilchrist was in hot pursuit, but when he realised he couldn't catch up, he threw himself down like a try scorer in rugby about 10 metres from the target. The 37-year-old wicketkeeper's slide was a little off the mark, but the effort deserved top rating.
Powerplays can be confusing
Captains have their hands full trying to figure out Powerplays these days. The third one was nearing its end when Ponting pushed an extra fielder outside the inner circle. Three men are allowed to be positioned in the outfield during the third Powerplay but Australia were taking it a fielder too far. The fact wasn't lost, fortunately, on the vigilant square-leg umpire - Daryl Harper - who signalled a no-ball.
Gambhir went for a flat six over long-on off Brad Hogg, except it bounced a couple of yards inside the boundary then another bounce before clearing the hoardings. A couple of kids attempted to stop the ball, but deflected it right on to the forehead of the gentleman behind, who smiled gamely despite the rather unexpected blow.
Sreesanth was wayward, and Gilchrist cashed in, smashing two successive boundaries. Gilchrist was cramped for room when one came back in to the body, and got an inside edge that raced toward Mahendra Singh Dhoni's wrong side. Dhoni dived and caught the ball in his fingertips; though it remains to be seen if the illegal piece of webbing had given him an unfair advantage.
Rohit Sharma, who came up with some scintillating saves at point completely misjudged one that came off the leading edge from Ponting. Ishant Sharma once again squared up the Australian captain with one that moved away; Rohit stayed put, at first thinking the ball was coming straight to him, only to find it moving to his left. A late dive was futile, and Ponting, on 15, had been let off early.
Rohit atoned for his previous faux pas by running out Matthew Hayden. Ponting pushed one into the covers off Virender Sewhag and called for a single. Rohit picked the ball with his left hand, switched it to his right while on the turn and threw it straight to the bowler, who triumphantly knocked off the bails. Unfortunately for Hayden, he was stranded mid-pitch as Ponting's call to 'wait' had come too late.
Cool down, Ishant
It's difficult to be a fast bowler when the batsmen get after you. Ishant Sharma got whipped by Hayden and Ponting in his first spell. As the innings neared its end he had Andrew Symonds bowled off a slow ball, and duly let out his frustration by celebrating a wee bit excessively. Symonds didn't like that, words were exchanged between the two, and it ended with Sharma pointing towards the dressing room repeatedly. Umpire Harper cautioned Dhoni about the 19-year-old, who has been summoned by match referee Jeff Crowe for a disciplinary hearing on Monday.