Indore sketches: Injured openers, Ajinkya Rahane’s jinx, DRS mumbling and surface tension

India's disappointment and bad luck at the top of the order continued with injury to Gautam Gambhir on the third day of the Indore Test.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Indore | Updated: October 11, 2016 8:14 am
india vs new zealand, india vs nz, india nz, india new zealand indore, india nz indore test, gautam gambhir, india openers, india drs, cricket, cricket news, sports, sports news Gautam Gambhir is the latest casualty in the growing list of Indian openers hurt. (Source: PTI)

Openers curse

Sept 27: KL Rahul had an injury on his right hamstring and was ruled out for the remainder of the Test series against New Zealand. In a surprise move, the new selection panel led by MSK Prasad, which incidentally won’t pass the eligibility in Lodha recommendations, named Gautam Gambhir as Rahul’s replacement for the next two Test matches.
OCT 3: Gambhir doesn’t get a chance to play in the second Test in Kanpur but Shikhar Dhawan too sustained a minor fracture on his left hand, and was ruled out of the third Test. He was replaced by Karun Nair but it was obvious that it would be Gambhir who would get a chance at his comeback.
Oct 10: Gambhir, who was dismissed for 29 in the first innings, injured his shoulder while fielding, and then again during batting in the second innings, and had to retire hurt.
In the span of nearly two weeks, three Indian openers have undergone medical treatment and two have been ruled out of the New Zealand tour to India. It had taken Gambhir two years for a comeback but it has ended, at least for now, with a dive. He fell hard on his shoulder while going for a second run and though he survived the run-out scare, his shoulder was done. Untill Monday evening, it was unknown his injury status whether he will come out to bat again or not.

Jinxed by the sight screen
It’s good that Sachin Tendulkar has retired as the man who was immensely fussy about sight-screen issues would have undoubtedly thrown a fit during the Indore Test. It’s the first Test at this venue, and people have been constantly walking near the screen much to the chagrin of batsmen. Ajinkya Rahane was out on 188 but just few minutes before, while he was about to face, he had to stop the bowler in the run-up. The interruption wasn’t done at the ground level, but by reporters walking inside the press box, located just above the screen.

Unlike most other Indian stadiums, the Indore press-box is situated just a few metres above the sight screen. Rahane was caught behind the very next ball and the blame-game began. So much so that there was even a verbal scuffle between the reporter and administrators. On Monday, the local authorities decided to keep the first two rows of the press-box vacant.

Why no DRS?
The BCCI doesn’t think that the DRS is foolproof but on Monday, many players must have felt the reverse. New Zealand got a superb opening stand going with Martin Guptill and Tom Latham and they had reached 112 for 0 when Jadeja had a huge appeal for a catch at slips as Latham tried to sweep. Umpire Oxenford was not convinced but replays showed that there was a slight inside-edge onto the boot before it popped up to Rahane in slips. Naked eye was once again not good enough but technology would have come handy. Luckily, for India, it didn’t matter much as R Ashwin harassed the kiwis with a six-wicket haul.

Deliberate or just incidental?
It’s not clear whether there was any wilful design but at least two Indian batsmen have been censured for running on the pitch. In at least one case, the match referee deemed it as causing an “avoidable damage”. First it was Ravindra Jadeja who was fined 50 per cent of his match fee, and had also received three demerit points for breaching Level 2 of the ICC Code of Conduct, during the second day’s play. However, on Monday, opener Murali Vijay was given an official warning by umpire Bruce Oxenford.

Jadeja was found to have breached Article 2.2.11 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players, which relates to “causing avoidable damage to the pitch during an international match” and was also charge with a fine.

After India chose not to enforce follow-on and decided to bat instead, Vijay ran through the danger area while attempting a quick single. Indore pitch has shown signs of turn but cracks haven’t opened up yet. The more the crack opens the more Jadeja comes into the play for Indian side.

In the evening after Jadeja was fined, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson was more that a little critical of the umpires, even saying in as much words that the umpires should have been more stringent against Jadeja. By the evidence of their quick reaction to Murali Vijay’s running, the umpires seemed pretty clued in to what’s happening.