There is no better contest in cricket than that of a tearaway fast bowler and a great batsman in a Test match.
Raw pace. Unbelievable seam. Beating batsmen off the wicket. Bamboozling great batsmen. The sound of timber. The look of utter disbelief on the batsman's face. The ecstasy of the bowler. The exhilaration of the spectators. That is what Test cricket is all about.
I present my pick for the top five "clean bowled" dismissals by quickies against the best Test batsmen over the past 15 years.
NB: Some photos are different from the actual dismissals as I couldn't locate the pics on the web. Sorry about that.
Disclaimer: There is obviously a personal bias. This is not THE list. Criticisms are welcome.
This is the second test of the four match series with the first one at Bangalore ending in a tight draw.
Ponting had already being called Ishant's bunny and true to this tag, got out LBW to him in the first innings.
Ponting is batting at two with Australia 52/3 chasing a mammoth 516.
The ball pitches outside off, well short of good length. Ponting tries to play the ball off the front foot. The ball seams back sharply off the pitch, goes right through the batsman's defense and uproots the off stump.
Ishant has his man... yet again!
This is the first innings. West Indies are 53/2. Lara is facing Waqar.
Waqar hustles in and bowls a fast delivery that seems to be directed towards off stump. The ball swings late into Lara whose high back lift catches him late on the ball. The ball yorks Lara and uproots his leg stump.
The great batsman is clueless. Waqar had brought him to his knees, literally.
It is the first Test of the three-match series. India go into this series with a 2-1 home series win against the Proteas. I think they had a poor practice match. The Durban wicket was hard and offered seam movement.
Sachin Tendulkar, the skipper, had a point to prove—that the Indian team could win abroad too.
India were at a (all-too-familiar) precarious situation at 52/3. Donald and Shaun Pollock, owing to their accuracy, were proving to be impossible to handle.
Donald to Tendulkar.
Ball 1: FOUR! That's an outswinger which Sachin magnificently drives through covers.
Ball 2: FOUR! Donald makes a slight adjustment to his length but is still square driven.
Ball 3: BOWLED! An express delivery! The ball pitches just outside off and nips back sharply off the wicket and takes his off stump. Tendulkar was beaten for pace, beaten by the jab off the wicket and also by the line.
The "White Lightening" himself rated this dismissal the best ball he ever bowled in Test cricket.
India were all out for 100 and lost that match by 328 runs.
It is the first test of the 2004/05 series. England are chasing 142 for victory. The score is 50/2.
Steyn comes steaming in. The ball swings in towards legside. Vaughan attempts to play it from his crease defensively. He has all the stumps covered.
Or so he thought. The ball, bowled at close to 150 kph, pitched on middle and leg and seamed off the wicket to knock the off stump off. Vaughan can't believe his eyes! And Steyn is ecstatic.
Chasing a target of 271 on the fifth day, India are 50/2. Rahul Dravid facing Wasim Akram
Ball 1: Wasim Akram runs into the wicket with his characteristic hurried approach. It's a peach of a delivery that initially appears to go across the right hander but swings a bit in the air.
It pitches on just about off stump and cuts back slightly in.
Dravid beaten off the pitch and is rapped on his front pad. A vociferous LBW appeal is turned down due to an apparent inside edge. The replays tell a different story though. Akram can't believe his luck.
Ball 2: Safely negotiated with a push to the cover fielder.
Ball 3: The Magic Ball
Akram bowling left arm over. The ball starts from just outside leg, moves in the air prodigiously, pitches in line with leg and continues on with that angle, across the batsman.
Dravid appears to have all his stumps covered and looks to play a backfoot defense. And yet the ball beats the batsman and his bat and crashes onto the stumps.
Dravid looks back in disbelief at the felled off stump.
Chennai crowd is stunned into silence. The Wall has been knocked off.
Despite a valiant century by Sachin Tendulkar, Pakistan won by 17 runs.