25 000 weddings and a funeral

Times Media


TELFORD VICE, Delhi

FOR every run Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers scored in their partnership at the Ferozeshah Kotla, 1851.85 Hindus were married in Delhi on Monday. But just 197.63 tied the knot for each of the deliveries Amla and De Villiers faced.

“This period is called Ansuya Lagan,” Pandit Shyam Dutt Pokhriyal, who advises on the most auspicious dates to wed as part of his priestly duties, said to explain why 50 000 Delhiites had decided to get hitched on Monday. “During this phase Rahu, Ketu and Shani will not interfere with any other planet.”

You have to wonder what the learned Pandit would have made of the symmetry of Sunday’s proceedings: on day 72 of their tour to India, SA scored 72 runs in 72 overs.

Amla and De Villiers were central to all that, and their method was to decline to interfere any more than they had to with any of the small, round, red, leather planetoids launched into their orbit by India’s bowlers.

They faced 253 balls in a stand that endured for 42.1 overs and for more than two-and-a-half hours – and realised 27 runs.

That earned a world record of sorts: never in the 2191 matches yet played in the almost 139 years of test cricket history have a pair of batsmen scored more slowly than the 0.64 runs an over Amla and De Villiers begrudged themselves.

Watching them was like peeping through the bedroom window of a couple who have been married for 30 years and more – not a lot going on in there.

Or like waiting for Halley’s Comet, which was last in Earth’s cosmic backyard in 1986 and is due back in 2061.

Not even Monday’s earthquake some 1250 kilometres away in Tajikistan – which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale and was felt in Delhi – could shake Amla and De Villiers. At the Kotla, the earth did not move.

Once the ball had been cleared for take-off from the hand at one end of the pitch, there was no guarantee it would cross the final frontier at the other end. More likely, it would disappear into the black hole of the South Africans’ resolve.

That’s one small step for bowlers, and another small step for a pair of batsmen intent on blocking the last drop of life out of the final day’s play in SA’s test series in India.

Many of those small steps, the Saffers hoped, would add up to the giant leap that would be drawing the fourth match of a rubber they had lost more a week ago on a Klingon of a pitch in Nagpur.

Keeping an eye from a galaxy far, far away, Brian Lara couldn’t see the stars for the Milky Way.

“I have an issue with this part of test cricket,” Lara tweeted. “ … if this is the approach to save a match why would I attend?”

Spoken like a player from out of this world who batted like a bachelor, and who had more exciting things to do on Monday than keep track of 25 000 weddings and a funeral.

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