WASIM JAFFER has never been one to show any emotion on the field. On most days there’s almost a tranquil air around him, and unlike with some sportspersons it doesn’t even seem like an elaborate façade. So when Jaffer suddenly broke out of his perennial Zen-mode after nearly two decades and started animatedly gesturing and gesticulating towards the Kerala slip-cordon late on Thursday, everyone at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat knew that he had seen something untoward.
It also happened to be the only moment of drama on a day, which was mostly spent twiddling thumbs and waiting for the umpires to deem conditions fit enough to play, despite the weather never quite taking an untoward turn. Two whole sessions and an additional half-hour were lost as the ground struggled to recover from the cyclone-induced torrential rain two days ago. The sun hardly broke out and eventually only 24 overs of play were possible. But Vidarbha still managed to get themselves into trouble in those after choosing to bat first. They finished Day One on 45/3, losing their top three batsmen, including Jaffer.
On the face of it, it seemed a rather straightforward dismissal. The veteran right-hander getting an edge while attempting a cut shot off left-arm spinner KC Akshay and the ball ballooning off the wicket-keeper’s pads into slip fielder KB Arun Karthick’s hands. Umpire Virender Sharma thought so as well, and raised his index finger immediately.
But while Jaffer didn’t seem to debate the authenticity of the edge, he didn’t seem too convinced by legitimacy of the catch. In his opinion, the ball hadn’t remained in the fielder’s hands long enough. For, while the ball did lob into Karthick’s hands, it almost instantly slipped out of them and rolled away in the direction of thirdman. And Jaffer was pointing out exactly that with his unusual show of angst.
He understandably stood his ground, leaving umpire Sharma and his colleague Vineet Kulkarni to sort the matter out. The two officials then had a word with Karthick, who as would later be revealed, had revealed to have done a Herschelle Gibbs, as in drop the ball while trying to prematurely celebrate the catch. And the fact that Jaffer was then asked to leave the pitch meant that the umpires bought his clarification. Whether he had “complete control over the further disposal of the ball” like the law suggests is a matter of debate, at least for the Vidarbha team management who didn’t seem to think so.
On either side of Jaffer’s dismissal, openers Faiz Fazal and Sanjay Ramaswamy had played loose shots and gotten themselves out, leaving their team in a vulnerable state on a pitch that turned a little and is expected to offer a lot more for the spinners from hereon.
“We can’t complain much but we lost one wicket to a bad decision and the other two to bad shots,” is how a team official described it. Jaffer, meanwhile, could be seen in the background reviewing his dismissal on the video analyst’s laptop.
It was just that kind of a day, where the sky remained murky and the two teams were just made to sit around and while away their time.
The umpires, meanwhile, conducted inspection after inspection—six in all—with the first at 9 am and the last at 2.30 pm. In that period 52 overs were lost, as the pitch and the outfield went from wet to nearly-dry.
Brief Scores: Vidarbha 1st innings: 45 for 3 in 24 overs (RR Sanjay 17; KC Akshay 2/14).