Updated: March 21, 2016 11:23:43 am
It was a meandering kind of a game where nothing much really happened once Tillekaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal fell early, and Sri Lanka dawdled to a below-par score on a sluggish pitch that aided a bit of turn.
Andre Fletcher came up with a real good knock against three Sri Lankan spinners, and took his team home with nearly two overs to spare. But there were two take-away moments from the game. The first had deceit, skill, trickery from Dwayne Bravo – a devilish slower ball that dipped so rapidly on an advancing Angelo Mathews who was so bewildered that he thought it was a beamer and ducked. The second was an awww moment: the crowd yelling, “We want Gayle, We want Gayle” on a loop from the first ball of the chase but we shall come to that later.
Lasith Malinga has a killer of a slower one that also dips alarmingly late but with his side-arm sling action, it’s a tad easier. Easy isn’t probably the right qualifying word for such a delicate and difficult art but hope you get the idea. For someone with high-arm action, the dip that Bravo gets is quite thrilling.
Mathews hadn’t done himself any favours by his charge down the track – a position from where the slower one could easily be confused as a beamer. And so he began to duck. But this is where Bravo’s bag of tricks came through. He had released the ball, held between his thumb and fore-finger, and the tweak he gives just before he let it go had the ball dip. A startled Mathews had his bat up as a face shield, probably, and the ball fell down rapidly, bounded off the edge of the bat and popped up to the keeper.
The Indian readers might remember the Bravo delivery from 2006 that had Ajit Agarkar in a trance – the ball had looped up before it was sucked down really quickly and a bemused Agarkar could only see it go past him and tip the middle stump. The Sri Lankans might have remembered Aravinda de Silva fooled by Australia’s Craig McDermott in the 90’s. McDermott chose the split-fingers technique and he had honed his skills well enough to have the ability to slide the fingers out, away from the seam at the last instant.
Aravinda saw the ball was around waist high when he suddenly lost sight of it as the ball started to fall down sharply. A surprised de Silva couldn’t quite adjust and was trapped in front. The neutrals might have recalled Chris Cairns fooling England’s Chris Read in a Test match at Lord’s. Read too had ducked, like Mathews, and the ball ended up yorking him but as good the ball was from Cairns, Read’s decision to go down under was because due to sightscreen issues that meant he didn’t see the ball at all.
Now to the awww moment(s) of the day. Around the time Mathews was ducking into the slower one, Chris Gayle had a twitch on his left hamstring, and he went back to the dugout to rest. He couldn’t come out to bat in the chase as the rule dictates that he had to wait out the time he spent off the field (10.11 pm to be precise last night) or come at the fall of five wickets, whichever was earlier.
Needless to say his IPL fans from the city he plays for began to miss him from the first ball in the chase. When Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher walked out to bat, a chant went around the arena. It’s amazing how quickly these sort of stuff spreads around the stadium. ‘We want Gayle, We want Gayle’ – on and on they went and even when Fletcher got off to a rousing start – 23 came in first two overs – the crowd didn’t let off their rallying cry.
When Dinesh Ramdin fell, West Indies had lost their third wicket, but Gayle began to move towards the boundary line. The reserve umpire Ian Gould intervened and sent him back. All this drama was caught and flashed on the big screen at the ground, and the crowd began their chants again. There was to be more drama left in the night. A moment came when it seemed Fletcher had fallen, edging to the keeper.
Gayle was seen standing beside the boundary ropes even as Fletcher, who had begun to walk, was awaiting a decision from the third umpire. Crowd got into it again, and there was palpable excitement all around but the third umpire played killjoy. After numerous replays, he decided the ball had bounced just before it settled into the gloves and he ruled that Fletcher would stay in.
A reluctant Gayle had to go back, the restless crowd had to wait more and the moment never came again. At the end of it all, Gayle came out on to the ground, and waved to his adoring ‘home’ fans. Later, Fletcher was asked about how he felt when crowd were cheering for his dismissal almost. Fletcher, his french beard widening with a lovely big smile, said, ” I don’t think they wanted me out. Chris is Chris, he is a great T20 batsman. Everyone loves to see him to bat. I also would like to see him bat!”
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