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India v Australia 2023

Pitch invaders, sightscreens & Pathaan: Day one at Kotla was not what anyone expected

Delhi Test India Australia
Aadya Sharma by Aadya Sharma
@Aadya_Wisden 2 minute read

Hosting its first Test in over five years, Delhi witnessed an absorbing opening day of action – beyond the bigger highlights, there were also little plays you might (or might not have) missed. Aadya Sharma – present at the ground – lists them down.

What began as a hazy morning at the Arun Jaitely Stadium turned into a fairly bright winter afternoon. Australia tussled their way to 263 all out, a marked improvement from their showings in Nagpur, and Usman Khawaja further bolstered his record in Asia with a battling 81. Peter Handscomb manoeuvered the spinners in his floppy hat and Pat Cummins unleashed a couple of hefty blows, but the Indian bowlers continued to stay on top of things for the most part.

Here are the little plays from an action-packed day:

An uninvited visitor

The first of many interruptions came early in the day when a hyper-excited fan broke through the barriers and tried to make his way to the middle. Out came a few security guards to tackle him – bizarrely, the fan gestured at the guard to let him have a moment before he was tackled and unceremoniously dragged out. He did not go off easily, digging his feet in as a couple of guards struggled. A couple of ugly, violent blows finally took him past the ropes. Mohammed Shami, stationed at the boundary, was nice enough to ask the guards to be gentle with him.

Captain Rohit’s one-on-one with security

Little interruptions continued at the Kotla throughout the day. There are boards all around the stands that say “Do not move/stand while bowling”, but those around the sightscreen didn’t really pay heed to their message.

At least a couple of times, crawling ball boys ventured into the white screen area, making batters pull away. Later, a gentleman decided to properly walk in front of them when the bowler was about to deliver, nonchalantly turned around and walked the whole way back. By then, Rohit had had enough – he jogged from short cover to the sightscreen, and himself gave the stationed guard an instruction or two. Probably not part of his job description, but oh well.

Jadeja becomes Pathaan

Jaddu, Rockstar, Sir Jadeja…there’s no shortage of ways to address India’s star all-rounder. On Friday, he had another addition – Pathaan. A Bollywood film of the same name, starring Shah Rukh Khan in a titular role has been setting the box office alight, and the craze has caught on in the Indian team. Just days ago, Virat Kohli and Jadeja were seen matching the steps from a popular song in the film. In Delhi, KS Bharat (or was it Kohli?) was heard on the stump mic, repeatedly addressing Jadeja as Pathaan. It’s likely to stick on.

Ashwin pulls out, Marnus plays safe

R Ashwin pulling out of his action can spell danger for the non-striker. Marnus Labuschagne would have had his heart in his mouth when Ashwin stopped in his stride in the 19th over. It didn’t seem like a warning to Marnus though and had more to do with Usman Khawaja not being ready at the other end. Marnus wasn’t taking any chances though: for the repeat ball, he stayed extra deep inside his crease, much behind the stumps.

Jadeja claims the final wicket but doesn’t

It was a repeat of the first Test. Jadeja dismissed Peter Handscomb to end his vigil and bowl out Australia in the 78th over. Or so it seemed. The players started walking back, but umpire Michael Gough stayed on, signalling a front-foot no-ball. It happened in the Nagpur Test too – Jadeja dismissed Steve Smith to end Australia’s second innings, only for a no-ball to deprive him. Next over, Mohammed Shami officially wrapped up the proceedings.

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