There are fast bowlers and there’s James Lee Pattinson. Unlike those exponents of ‘military-medium’ stuff — there are plenty in India — who bewail the lack of juice, grass and what not in a pitch, this 22-year-old just runs in and bowls (really) fast. Well, there’s a ‘Lee’ in his name! What did you expect?
All the strapping right-armer did was bowl a couple of micro-spells in the space of 20 overs across two sessions. The wicket, as dead as a dodo, suddenly sprung to life. Let’s say Pattinson injected some into it. His figures — 6-1-25-3 — bare testimony to this fact.
As many as six seamers from both the sides have collectively bowled 60 overs, giving away 196 runs. None has managed to pick up a wicket yet. Curiously enough, Michael Clarke didn’t use him in the last 21 overs. And that’s probably why India ended Day Two of the first Tests on an even keel.
Sharing the new ball with Mitchell Starc, Pattinson required just seven deliveries to put M Vijay in his place. He hurled the red cherry at 150 kph, pitching it right up there. So clueless was the local lad that he opted to play a drive, only to inside-edge the ball on to his stumps. By now, Pattinson was breathing fire. Virender Sehwag was in the firing line. After ducking the first Pattinson delivery he faced, Sehwag was way too slow to react to the next one — a 147 kph scorcher. Pattinson bowled it short of a length; Sehwag managed to bring his bat down but the ball bounced inside the popping crease. A myopic, and bespectacled, Sehwag lost sight of the ball which, by now, had landed right on top of the stumps and clipped a bail. It was 12/2.
Out walked Sachin Tendulkar to a thunderous reception. Pattinson steamed in again, bowled at over 140 kph, only for the master to push it through cover for four. What did you expect?
Another thunderbolt, another four. Tendulkar dispatched it through point. Pattinson then managed to beat the bat before the genius leg-glanced him for his third four in four deliveries. A brilliant contest was in the offing but Clarke took him off the attack. India were 24/2.
By the time Pattinson was reintroduced, India were 95/2. The Tendulkar-Cheteshwar Pujara combine, which had steadied the ship, played out Pattinson’s fourth over — 29th of the innings —without much ado. However, in his next, Pattinson accounted for Pujara with an off-cutter bowled at 140 kph. Yes, the ball kept low, but Pujara left an awfully huge gap between bat and pad to get prematurely bowled for 44. And believe it or not, Clarke took him off after one more over. “I’d planned to bowl in short spells at the start and be as aggressive as I could… Hopefully, I have a few up the sleeve for tomorrow (Sunday). If I can clean up the tail, that would be nice,” Pattinson said.
What was his plan to Tendulkar? “My plan early was to try and bounce him. We changed that at the last minute, which was probably a mistake.”
It was, but Pattinson also knows the game is not over.