Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bails that pass the buck and Sehwag's rebuke for the MoM

I had not yet known blogging when India conquered Adelaide 2003. Now when I have the delicious Jo'burg 2006 inviting me to sink my teeth in, I suffer from a block of sorts! Strangely the block’s not from paucity of words or topics but from excesses of those.

What do I write about? The win? You all know all of it by heart – even the scorecard with the number of balls faced, perhaps.

The inspirational return of Dada that has silenced his detractors (and - ahem - some fans who believe he should have retired) and roused a beleaguered and increasingly unsure team ala Brisbane 2004? But then anything I have to say on that is bound to be the 237th repetition. The one incident about Dada’s effort with the ball that I thought of blogging about while watching the match live on Sunday has been covered by cricinfo's Siddartha Vaidyanathan here.

Sreesanth? He is on your left, right, inside, outside, ruling your sense and nonsense. But people still want more of him. Understandable, after his 8 wkt haul and his ‘Nel biting’ batting. So I guess I have to write about him even at the risk of evoking ‘oh no not again’s.

The first moment I found interesting from fourth day’s play was Shaun Pollock’s dismissal to Anil Kumble. As Polly missed his slog heave on one knee, the straightish delivery went ahead and kissed the top of his leg stump. The right bail felt the jolt and for a split second it thought of getting off its comfortable perch. But the weather out there was way too glorious this day and displaying great reluctance it shoved the off bail (apparently a junior), ordering it to do the needful instead. Thus we happened to see the unusual incident of Shaun’s off bail falling to Kumble’s leg stump hit.

The other one, as I promised, is about Sreesanth. It is the 73rd over (or, maybe 74th). The new ball is understandably not available and Andre Nel is batting. Nel defends a Kumble delivery and the camera view switches to the one behind the right hand batsman. Sehwag, fielding at short mid-off, turns to his left and reprimands the out-of-view point fielder: "Tujhe baat karne ko mana kiya na", which is "Told you not to speak" in Hindi. [The stump mics these days are terrific – bad for lovers of verbal freedom, really – and seem to catch most sounds made within a 7 metre radius.]

I made an assumption as to who that vociferous guy under fire from Sehwag could be. Confirmation came soon - it was the champion sword-wielding horserider from Kerala all right. That incident indicates a hint of worry amongst the team seniors about Sreesanth crossing the line once too often and earning a ban. I see good reason behind it; Sreesanth’s unwarranted reaction after dismissing Amla in the 2nd innings was certainly cause for concern. Like his erstwhile vice captain, the skipper too is a little worried about the extent of the young bowler’s expressiveness:

"He bowled brilliantly for us," said Dravid, when asked specifically about Sreesanth's man-of-the-match display. "Obviously, he's a character, but he needs to be a bit careful. We wouldn't want him to miss a game."

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