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Thursday, October 18, 2018

bizarre run outs - Azhar Ali in a trance - and when Krish Cheeka walked !

I vividly remember that 1st Test in 1981 – India beat England by 138 runs ! ~ for a specific reason. Chennaites were so fond of Krish Srikkanth – his batting style, entertaining, fearless – but evoking fear all the time to his supporters. The swashbuckler was a crowd puller, who can hit the 1st ball for a six – his lofted shots over extra cover, his straight drives, square drives, pulls and hooks all mesmerized us.

Today at Abu Dhabi, Pakistan moved closer to a series-clinching win,  breaking the back of the Australian bowling attack - and perhaps the spirit of the side - once and for all. On what was a draining day in ferociously hot conditions, Sarfraz Ahmed kept Tim Paine and his men out on the field for all but the last 12 overs. They amassed 400 runs in the process, and set Australia a gargantuan 538 runs to win. There was still time for Mir Hamza to get his first Test wicket, clipping the outside of Shaun Marsh's off stump with perhaps the best delivery of the match. Babar Azam and Sarfraz put on 133 for the sixth wicket, Babar falling agonisingly short of his first Test hundred, Mitchell Marsh trapping him in front when the 23-year old was on 99.

~ yet the talking point was something else – a bizaree run out – that of Azhar Ali, out in a comical fashion, chatting with his partner when a flat throw thudded on to Paine’s gloves - a mistake described by Michael Vaughan as 'the greatest run-out of all time'.

Azhar Ali,  edged a ball from Peter Siddle wide of gully and with the third man area vacant presumed the ball had run away for four.  Without a fielder to cover the area it looked a certain boundary for Pakistan, but, but, the ball the ball stopped short of the boundary rope and was retrieved by Mitchell Starc, was thrown back in and the bails removed by Tim Paine with Ali caught stranded  !     Ali had not even bothered running, only glancing at where the ball had gone before taking a few steps down the track and consulting his batting partner Asad Shafiq  Shafiq had his eyes on the ball, but he too did not notice it falling short.

The pair punched gloves and paused for a mid-pitch chat as Mitchell Starc's bullet throw from the boundary rope was received by wicketkeeper Tim Paine, who gleefully removed the bails. Ali stared in disbelief as he was caught well out of his crease with the Australians celebrating wildly. He reluctantly trudged back to the pavilion at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, with his 141-ball vigil coming to a farcical end. Ali hit 64 as Pakistan built a substantial lead over Australia in their second innings.

Run outs have changed matches (though this may not have any impact on the result) – one would never forget Lance Klusner choke run out in 1999 World Cup.  Decades earlier, on Dec 14, 1960 -   Joe Solomon threw down the stumps from square-leg to run out Ian Meckiff, and Test cricket witnessed the first ever Tie.  On that final day, between  the stolen singles and twos, Alan Davidson cut and hooked with vicious grace. He had walked in with the score reading 57 for 5, Hall on rampage. At the other end captain Richie Benaud looked unruffled. When he had come in at 92 for 6, all had looked lost.

At close of play, Wes Hall was bowling, with the clock showing 5:56. Australia stood at 227–7, needing six runs to win from the 8-ball over, with three wickets in hand. Of the first ball, Wall Grout was hit on the high but ran a single. 2nd Richie Benaud was caught behind by wicket-keeper Gerry Alexander. The score was 228–8. 4th ball down the leg side and batsmen ran one. Next ball there was a mix up between the bowler and Rohan Kanhai resulted in a dropped catch and a single.  6th Meckiff swung connected and ran 2 – 7th ball   Lindsay Kline, pushed the ball to square leg and set off for a single. Joe Solomon scooped up the ball and, with one stump to aim for from 12 metres out, threw the ball in and hit the stumps, running Meckiff out by a few inches.  Australia were all out for 232 and the match ended in the first tie in 84 years of Test Cricket.

                   In 1999 – the  Asian Test Championship game between India and Pakistan in Kolkata ended in a 46-run win which was completed in front of a vacant stadium.  On the previous day, Sachin Tendulkar  was given run out for 9 in the 2nd innings with India chasing 279 to win. Tendulkar crashed into Shoaib Akhtar while trying to take a third run and was given run out after a direct throw. Wasim Akram refused to withdraw his appeal lashing out at the Indian media instead. He said "You have said that Shoaib obstructed Sachin from making his ground and I should have re-invited him to bat. Why should I do that? If a team fails for only one man, that is our bonus."  - immediately after the run out verdict there were riots, and  next morning when Indians were on the brink of defeat at 231/9 there was unrest in the stands.  Police and security forces removed all the spectators and the formality of Pak win was completed.   Pak were 26 for six in 9 overs on day 1. 

At Trentbridge on the 3rd day of play (31st July 2011) it was close to tea and the ground was filled with English supporters.    Bell was attempting to steal a run as it was not sure whether the ball had touched the ropes.  Bell scampered for the final run, hesitated, nonstriker was not interested and when the throw homed in, Bell was miles away towards the bowling end.  Dhoni collected the ball, whipped off the bails and there cannot be anything else than a Run Out.  Bell was in no mood to accept the decision, this time blaming the Umpire and the English batsmen walked out which again is a violation of the spirits of the game. Indian team was booed.

It was the last ball of the 65th over,  Ishant was bowling faster – Morgan flicked the delivery to deep square – Praveenkumar made an ungainly attempt at saving the ball – he did succeed in preventing it from touching the rope.  The batsmen assumed it was four – still hesitantly Bell attempted another run – Morgan was not interested.  Throw homed in, found Bell yards away – Abhinav Mukund collected the throw, off came the bails – Indians went on appeal and the Umpires gave Bell out. There were replays and the board flashed Bell out.  The famous English crowd which repeatedly had been hailed by their own press as knowledgeable but always displays partisan attitude jeered at the Indians.  We have been told all along that the decision of the Umpire is to be accepted !! Bell went to the fourth Umpire Tim Robinson stating that he had heard the Umpires calling ‘over’.   There are also reports that Strauss and Flower went to Indian dressing room at tea asking Dhoni whether he would withdraw his appeal.  It was clearly a run-out but Dhoni diplomatically recalled his appeal !! .. ..

In 1981, against Ian Botham and RGD Willis, Krish Srikkanth made his debut and failed to open his account in first essay.  Kapil Dev and Madan Lal polished England with 5 wickets apiece in 2nd innings for a famous Indian win.   Earlier in Indian 2nd innings, dashing opener Krishnamachari Srikkanth – fended one to the slips, started walking towards the leg umpire in his usual manner,  John Emburey saw an opportunity, threw the stumps down, Srikkanth was given out – Sunil Gavaskar openly admonished Cheeka and there was the remorseless remark on commentary that ‘this boy should learn that this is Juhu beach to go for a walking’.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Oct 2018.

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