Two weekends ago, the Kotla hosted a Test match that, in effect, ended on the fifth day after beginning on the third. A fortnight later, most of the demons in the pitch had been exorcised; rolled into submission, it would seem, by a billion-dollar behemoth. Kingsmead it will never be - not even,
for that matter, Mohali. But what the Kotla of Saturday did offer was justice, both to the quicks' shoulders, and also to the batsmen who aren't completely out of their depths when it comes to handling pace.
Sadly, there weren't too many tearaways on display, not the known names anyway. For the Delhi Daredevils, it was compulsion - Morne Morkel is still in South Africa; Varun Aaron, injured. But the visiting Rajasthan Royals' decision to leave out Shaun Tait and Fidel Edwards and instead stock up on medium-pacers was more of a conscious decision - borne, perhaps, out of the pitch's reputation from the recent past that got precedence over the ground reality.
The two Indians that did play stood out, more so because they are coming back after long lay-offs.
First up, it was Umesh Yadav. Consecutive deliveries in his first over duly punished by Kusal Perera in styles that would make his idol Sanath Jayasuriya proud — a pull over square leg and a slash through extra cover — the Vidarbha pacer got his revenge off the very next delivery.
Yadav returned to remove Stuart Binny, who was batting at 40 off 19 and looking increasingly dangerous, and Rahul Dravid, once again the sheet anchor and the Royals' top-scorer, and will be on a hat-trick the next time he bowls.
The other was Sreesanth. Three deliveries cost him 12 runs; the other 21, just six.
The Kerala pacer, who missed out on the tournament's previous edition, also continued Unmukt Chand's record of losing timber, casting serious doubts on the young Delhiite's prowess. Using up Sreesanth in a single spell right at the start could so easily have proved to be a mistake.
Perhaps, it was a miscalculation on the part of on-field skipper Brad Hodge — Dravid, having made a great attempt at catching Warner off Sreesanth, hobbled off the field in the fourth over due to cramps and a potential calf issue.
Luckily for the Royals, two of their medium pacers, including a little-known Indian, came to the party. Nine were needed off the final over; Kevon Cooper conceded only three, breaking the Royal jinx. In the over before that, Rahul Shukla conceded eight. Crucially, though, it was the over that saw the end of David Warner, taken out by Hodge's direct hit.
It meant that Warner did not quite make up for his and his teammates' gaffes in the field - Botha dropping Perera off Yadav at slip was just the start of a series of fumbles, costly misfields, overthrows and dropped catches, including Warner palming a Dravid skier over the long-on fence.
For all the demons in the Kotla pitch - or the sudden lack thereof — this match, then, was decided off the square.
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