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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Surya dazzles, soft-signal .......... and Babar in Court !!



Anbe Vaa, the movie starring M. G. Ramachandran and Saroja Devi released in 1966  had the Q ‘Test match puriyuma ?’ ~ do you understand Test match, which at that time was considered to be understood only  by elites.  .. ..

Breaking into Indian playing X1 is tough – I have not seen such a bowling line-up consisting of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar & Rahul Chahar. In a high scoring match, in the final over Shardul Thakur had to defend 23 – was bowling only to Jofra Archer & Chris Jordan – but a six followed by 2 wides, made most of us nervy though India were home comfortably by 8 runs in the end.  The scorecard reads : India 185 for 8 (Suryakumar Yadav  57, Shreyas Iyer 37, Archer 4-33) beat England 177 for 8 (Stokes 46, Roy 40, Thakur 3-42, Pandya 2-16) by eight runs – has many untold interesting events unfolding. .. .. about team composition one wonders how India could accommodate 3 keepers KL Rahul, RishaB Pant and Ishan Kishen – is there dearth of batters ??

India broke the trend of win toss-bat second-win game, squeezing out a thrilling eight-run win in the fourth T20I against England on Thursday after being asked to bat first. The two teams will now head into the final game with the series 2-2. There was high drama, great skill on display with bat and ball, and a spot of umpiring controversy in a match that packed plentiful action in 20 overs across both innings. In his first time batting for India, Suryakumar Yadav made a splash few will forget, top-scoring with a rollicking 57 off 31 that turbo-charged India's start. His innings and his dismissal will vie for headline space with each other though. Yadav was rattling along at more than 11 runs per over when he top-edged a sweep to deep backward square leg, where Dawid Malan got to the ball even as it was dipping down. Numerous replays later, Yadav was adjudged out, with the third umpire ruling that there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the on-field soft signal of 'out'.

It was the 2nd ball of 14th over – from numerous TV replays it did appear that Dawid Malan was not in control and grassed the ball – picking it along too.   England's fielders celebrated as umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan gave a soft signal of "out". That decision sparked instant debate as third umpire Virender Sharma remained unconvinced about whether it was a clean catch, despite reviewing Malan's pouch multiple times for nearly four minutes. Sharma repeatedly described the evidence as "inconclusive", and subsequently, as per the rules, was forced to stick to Anathapadmanabhan's soft-signal ruling. The debating point is – ‘how can the on-field Umpire be certain that the catch had been taken cleanly !  - and why should there by a soft signal of ‘out’’ ?  - when technology is available it should only be used to the hilt. A reference and decision should only be technical – not to be referred to the Umpire to stand by what he had signalled earlier.   Clearly injustice of 30 year old Yadav – who had debuted last match, did not get any opportunity to bat and today started with a sixer off the first ball he faced ! 

Yadav's departure in the 14th over left the game delicately poised, but Shreyas Iyer launched into perhaps his best T20I innings yet, with a sparkling 37 off 18 that gave India a total that was above par, even though this was the best batting pitch of the series and there was dew around. Suryakumar Yadav is a well-known name to all those following IPL – earlier with KKR and now with Mumbai Indians – bought by MI for the 11th season for  INR 3.2 crore, had made runs aplenty. Overall he has played 101 IPL matches making 2024 runs at 30.20 average !! ~ and he was playing only because - Ishan Kishan, who had belted a 28-ball half-century on his T20I debut on Wednesday, had suffered a groin strain. 

He dispatched the very first ball he faced from fearsome  Jofra  Archer for an agenda-setting six, never really let up, and showed India the way to bat first. Archer banged in a chest-high lifter at 144kph, but Suryakumar swiftly jumped back and nailed a one-legged pull with gum-chewing swagger and jaw-dropping timing. Suryakumar had pulled off a similar outrageous hit - a reverse-scoop - off Archer over Jos Buttler's head for six in IPL 2020.  

It is not talent alone !! – many talented players have not got the right opportunity – when we grew up – TN batting was all about V Sivaramakrishnan, Michael Dalvi, TE Srinivasan, Abdul Jabbar  and players like Sudhakar Rao were spoken so high.  Sudhakar.  Way back in 1976, Sudhakar Rao toured and debuted at New Zealand in ODI – though he too can keep wickets, it was P Krishnamurthy who debuted and donned keeping gloves.  That turned out to be the only ODI for both of them.  Sunil Gavaskar listed 31 idols in his book ”Idols”published in 1983. Left arm spinner Rajinder Goel figured in the elite group. Goel took a record 640 wickets in the Ranji Trophy but never played any game for India save the  unofficial Test against Sri Lanka.  A  successful leftarm pacer born in Secunderabad and played for Delhi regularly ended up ‘a trivia Q in Quizzing circles’….. he was part of that famous Kapil Devils which won World Cup 1983 – did not play in a single match… when India struggled against Windies – he was not selected and never got a chance again to be part of the Indian squad.    that was "Sunil Valson"........Then 16 years later he had another for company ~ an attacking left hander Amay Khurasiya was included in team for 1999 WC but did not get a single chance to play……… [later he played in some odd One dayers without great success]

To end there is another story of a classical stroke maker who was prolific in mid 1980s – made a double ton for Delhi against Karnataka too… that was Bhaskar Pillai ~ made more than 5000 runs in Ranji. In 1988 when New Zealand toured India, India won all the one dayers and  were 4-0 up – for the final ODI at Jammu on 19th Dec 1988, India made some changes and Bhaskar was there ……….. perhaps a good innings could have gotten him a place in Indian line up……. Ironically the match was abandoned without a ball bowled due to rain.

Before concluding – a  Lahore court has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to file a case against Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, on charges of blackmail and harassment. The charges include two others alongside Azam and have been filed by Hamiza Mukhtar; they stem from allegations Mukhtar filed last year. Ahead of Pakistan's tour to New Zealand, Mukhtar held a press conference in which she had made allegations of harassment and exploitation against Azam. She had approached a court at the time, which directed the police to investigate the case.

That case was never registered, however, as Azam's legal team secured a stay order from the Lahore High Court - both the original direction and Thursday's have been made by the lower sessions court. The High Court proceedings were adjourned after an initial hearing until March 22 as Azam was leading Pakistan in the series against South Africa and subsequently in the PSL, both requiring him to be inside a biosecure bubble.  In their original report, once Azam didn't appear, the FIA report concluded, "This shows guilty form [sic] his part." Judge Hamid Hussain on Thursday directed the FIA "to proceed further with respect to registration of the FIR against the culprits within the stipulated time following legal formalities". Azam's family, however, are understood to argue they did not receive the FIA summons. ESPNcricinfo understands they will once again approach the Lahore High Court. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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