What a thrilling Test match. For those that missed it, like me, you can go watch the highlights here. India essentially won with 3 more balls left in the minimum quota of overs. There was a whole other over after that, but Amla would have been on strike for that one and he was not going to throw it away at the last moment. However, there were still 20 or so minutes left in the day’s play (assuming the light did not deteriorate quickly), so India would have had a few more chances. Nevertheless, it was too close for comfort.
An interesting incident that happened was when Virender Sehwag kicked the ball over the boundary to keep Amla on strike (so that Morkel would be on strike for the next over) and signalled 4 runs to the umpire. The umpire allowed the single and levied a 5 run penalty on top of that. The umpire obviously has not watched Lagaan. I am not sure if this is against the law, but I do know that this has happened in international cricket before and nobody was penalized. In one incident, the ball was hit to a part of the ground where there were no fielders, and so the batsmen ran 5 before the fielder (I think he was Indian) kicked the ball past the boundary to keep them to 4. Sehwag must have been thinking about doing that for a while: he almost did that once earlier, where he was just running next to the ball and essentially escorting it to the boundary, but then collected the ball and threw it back. Maybe he was aware of the law and realized the ball was not going to make it to the boundary.
In any case, if kicking the ball over the boundary on purpose is against the law, I suggest we legalize it. After all, one team is giving up 4 runs simply to change strike. If a team has built up a huge run buffer, then why not? Also, it’s so easy to workaround this law. Sehwag could have simply put his foot on the boundary line while picking up the ball and returned it as if he was trying to field it. I can think of tons of other way to skirt this law. So, instead, let’s just legalize it, and have fun watching fielders kick the ball over the boundary.
There was also another interesting incident during this Test match. To counter Harris’ outside-leg-stump line, Sehwag started to use the reverse sweep. The first one was almost a switch-hit (I don’t think he switched hands though) and the ball was hit in the air in front of square and made it to the boundary. The second, a more traditional sweep which I think also fetched four. The third time, though, he tried to repeat the first stroke, but got the top edge and the miscued ball landed safely in no-man’s land around gully. Shortly after that, the large screen at the ground flashed a message to Sehwag begging him not to play the reverse sweep anymore (written in “text-message” English, as a lot of Indian people now do even when not texting)! How odd is that? The screen operator must have been a Sehwag fan.
On a final note, Amla’s grandparents must be the happiest folks on the planet with this match. Being Indians who hail from my home state, I assume they were hoping for a narrow Indian win despite a valiant unbeaten rearguard effort from Hashim.