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A comedy of errors

South Australia's win over Mumbai Indians was so full of errors, it provided endless amusement to the kids watching

Dwayne Bravo gave away 16 runs in the 18th over, Mumbai Indians v South Australia, Champions League Twenty20, Durban, September 14, 2010

Dwayne Bravo was guilty of bowling too many full-tosses in Mumbai's loss to South Australia  •  AFP

There are days when you hope little boys and girls aren't watching the game. You feel that if they see the poor show that the professional players have put up, the kids won't fall in love with the sport. This wasn't one of those days, though. You hoped that the kids watched tonight because there was an element of fun, albeit of a different kind.
Yes, the game was low-quality; the fielding was appalling and the bowling at the pressure points was terrible. Yes, the highlights packages will feature boundaries from full tosses, dropped catches and catches off full tosses. But it was actually funny to watch. The kids would have loved it. Like how it's funny to watch slap-stick. To watch grown-up men tumble, fumble and mess-up has been a fun pastime since time immemorial. It was that kind of a funny night in Durban. Admission: 40 rand for the grass banks and 100 for the grandstand. And it was Paisa-vasool (value for money) as they say in India.
The end would have had the kids, as this internet generation would say, rofl (rolling on the floor laughing). For an older generation, it was like watching Sunday-park cricket. The equation read 41 from 18 when Dwayne Bravo was thrown the ball. His captain Sachin Tendulkar would later say that he thought his team had things under control then. Mumbai lost control like alcoholics tempted with free drinks.
Bravo's first delivery was almost a full toss and was smashed back so hard that it nearly decapitated him. The crowd laughed. He went on to bowl three more full-tosses in the next five deliveries. There was some dew. Tendulkar didn't want it to sound as an excuse but stated in the voice of a man under oath who has to put facts on record: "There was some dew. The bowlers were finding it difficult to hold the ball."
Only Malinga had the pace and the confidence to try bowling couple of bouncers in that scenario. When the yorker's aren't coming because the ball is wet, you try to hold the ball cross-seam or try to hit the deck. Malinga did that. The rest probably feared that the short stuff at their pace could disappear. Wonder why they didn't try any slower ones. They continued to try bowling yorkers; they kept serving full tosses. Whack. Boom. Biff. Blast.
Tendulkar called upon Zaheer Khan to bowl the penultimate over. The equation was 25 from 12. Tendulkar still thought his team was under control. Zaheer was coming off a long injury lay-off; he has been recently sweating it out at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore, India. And the effort showed in his spell with the new ball: The ball bounced, seamed and dangerously flirted with the outside edge. The NCA stint had prepared him for that. What it couldn't provide him with was match practice; real match situations where you can test yourself. Today, he slipped. It can happen. He bowled four full tosses in that over to reduce the equation to 11 from 6. And it was fitting that the winning runs came from a full toss from Harbhajan Singh. The game deserved nothing else. It had to be a full toss. And it was.
The most fun though came from the fielding. There was a contest running in the pressbox about how many catches were dropped. 'Four? That Harbhajan one was a missed chance right? Ok five. What about the one Ambati Rayudu clanged? But hey, he is not a regular keeper. So? Ok, Six. Happy? May be we missed something. Let's ask Tendulkar.'
"It was the fielding that let us down," Tendulkar said. "Some balls came harder than you thought it would, some swung away from you - like mine did- and you had to adjust. We didn't today."
When all the mayhem was unfolding on the field, it wasn't readily apparent whether Tendulkar was upset, whether he was sad or whether he was angry with all this full tosses and catches. As a captain, how did he deal with this entire low-quality cricket? "You tend to get upset. Nobody wants to lose. There are days when you try your best but nothing works out. This was one of those days. Every day, you can't bowl four brilliant overs or score a brilliant fifty. Sometimes, lapses do happen. It was just one of those days."
It was. But what morbid fun was had.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo