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Of verbal volleys and dubious decisions

Now, all cricketers know that talk can get cheap in the middle, and that chatter can’t be stopped, but obviously, Pietersen crossed some invisible line on day 3 of the second Test, writes Rohit Mahajan.

cricket Updated: Jul 30, 2007 02:12 IST
Rohit Mahajan

In the middle of a drowsy afternoon, after VVS Laxman put the already beer-stunned spectators through slow torture, playing 24 balls without scoring, there was sudden drama.

The fourth ball of the 154th over, bowled by Chris Tremlett, was short and wide, and Laxman went for the cut, got a thin edge and England celebrated.

Zaheer Khan came in, got a thin — but thicker-than-Laxman — edge, past the slips, eluding a diving Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen didn’t like this perhaps, and gave Zaheer a mouthful. Zaheer was about to take strike to the next one when he suddenly turned and advanced towards Pietersen, pointing with his bat and uttering sweet nothings of his own.

Now, all cricketers know that talk can get cheap in the middle, and that chatter can’t be stopped, but obviously, Pietersen crossed some invisible line.

The umpires quickly stepped in, telling Pietersen to calm it a bit — Pietersen responded with: "Sure you've got the right man?"

With Michael Vaughan off, Andrew Strauss was the man in charge of England and he too seemed to get some sermonising from the umpires.

Zaheer was simmering, Pietersen wore an expression of injured pride; when the two face off in the second innings, sparks will fly!

Dhoni darts, Sachin stalls

When MS Dhoni edged Ryan Sidebottom to Matt Prior, he started the brisk walk back to the pavilion even before the umpire could move a jaw muscle -- the edge was faint, the deflection minor. It may have been just that Dhoni's best self had risen above self-interest, but his enthusiastic exit was in sharp contrast to the departures of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

Tendulkar seemed to have taken roots when umpire Simon Taufel gave him out lbw — Tendulkar had a right to be upset because the ball had clearly hit him outside off stump, and his 38th Test century must wait.

Taufel got it wrong again when he gave Ganguly his marching orders — this time the ball was way outside leg stump, a quick one from Anderson, and it was inconceivable that Ganguly could be quick enough reach behind his pads to nick it. Seeing the rising finger, Ganguly simply threw his head back and walked to the rope, shaking his head all the way. Taufel, when he gets a chance to review his decisions in slow motion, would definitely cringe, but cricket is a great equaliser — even for an umpire with several ICC awards.