It was a juicy length ball and George Bailey had set his base and launched it into orbit. Away she soared down the ground, followed by every pair of eyeballs in the stadium. Tim Southee was among them as he went as far back on the long-on boundary as he could. It was going to lob him - he extended his right hand and caught the ball in the airspace beyond the boundary. But the very momentum that had helped him reach the ball was now about to push him over the ropes. That was when, out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Karun Nair. Out came a deft little flick, by instinct, to keep the ball in play, and Karun to dived low to his right, by instinct, to complete a catch that will likely break YouTube and ESPNcricinfo hit counters.
Sehwag's see-saw night
All of Steven Smith's strengths were on view as soon as the seventh over - the leap outside off, the twirl of supple wrists, the gap found on the leg side, a boundary for the taking. Until Virender Sehwag took aim at every person who's ever said he doesn't move his feet. From long leg, he raced to his left, went into a full-length dive and swatted the ball back into the field of play. Pune, Kings XI Punjab's home for today, roared. "Great stop viru bhai still rocking can't wait to see your attacking batting," Suresh Raina tweeted. Only, great expectations often foster anti-climaxes and Sehwag nicked off for a golden duck.
Rajasthan Royals were 53 for 3 after eight overs when Mitchell Johnson's bulky and tattooed arms began windmilling at fine leg. Stuart Binny is not unfamiliar to this sight, having spent the last summer in Australia with the Indian team, but today was the first time he was in the firing line. Nine balls he faced. Nine balls that beat the bat. A bouncer reached the wicketkeeper by the time Binny flashed and was followed by a yorker, flavoured with enough inswing to leave a shiner on his front toe in the morning. Nine balls that felt like Johnson was a predator playing with his food and the tenth confirmed as much. It was the only one Binny got bat to, an outside edge that sat safely in Wriddhiman Saha's gloves.
The security threat
At the other end there was James Faulkner, mauling Johnson for two sixes and two fours. So those behind the boundary line needed to be alert. Except the security personnel at IPL grounds do not have that luxury. Not even the security dogs and one of them had an uncomfortably close run in with a Faulkner-powered thump. In the 19th over, he picked up a Johnson slower ball so easily that he was able to get down on one-knee to give it the necessary air miles. Glenn Maxwell, at the square leg boundary, leaped up in hopes of intercepting it and got his right hand to the ball and palmed the ball over the ropes and almost onto the poor dog.
Southee doesn't stray down leg often, but when he does the batsman better capitalise. Wriddhiman Saha managed a small deflection off the boot and he assumed it would be enough to beat the keeper. Steven Smith, at slip flew into a leg-before appeal and the rest of the in-fielders followed suit, but the wicketkeeper Sanju Samson had other things in mind - Saha had drifted out of his crease to nick a few runs. So Samson threw himself to his left, got to the ball, recovered from a minor fumble and threw down the stumps without even taking off his gloves. Smith still had his hands raised in that leg-before appeal and Saha was left stunned in the middle of the pitch.