Is Indian opener Gautam Gambhir still wincing from the knock he received on his knuckles which kept him out of the second Test against South Africa, at Durban? Whatever the case, he doesn't seem to guiding India with too steady a hand. His impressive 65 not out at the end belies the fact that he has been living on the edge - quite literally.
Indeed, Gambhir edged one ball too many in his hitherto 159-ball innings. In fact, twice in his on-going knock fortune greatly favoured him. In the 11th over, when Gambhir was on just 10, a ripper from Porteas paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked up Gambhir's outer edge before the ensuing catching opportunity at third slip was spilled by Alviro Petersen. Strike 1 for Gambhir.
Fast-forward to the 45th over, Gambhir, now on 60, was facing his would-be nemesis Tsotsobe yet again when the speedster induced Gambhir into a drive off a good-length delivery. The ball took the outer edge again, and this time, it was the uncharacteristic butter fingers of A B de Villiers that put the catch down at second slip. Gambhir had been let off the hook for a second time.
But throughout his innings, the classy left-hander was playing far too adventurously for a seasoned, compact Test batsman. He played several streaky shots with an angled bat, away from his body and with little accompanying footwork. In the 12th over, he fished outside the off-stump to Dale Steyn, getting a thick outside edge which flew just wide of Ashwell Prince at third slip and onto the boundary.
In the 16th over, Gambhir tried to reach out to smack Morne Morkel for a cover-drive, but instead got an inside edge which rolled to the on side. Then in the 27th over, the Delhi batsman edged Tsotsobe, but lucikly for him and India, the ball landed just short of gully.
9 overs later, he was nearly done in by the full, fast delivery slanting across, from Steyn. Gambhir tried to drive without getting on the front foot and got an inside edge that again didn't find it's way onto the stumps or a fielder's palms.
On two more occasions, Gambhir survived close calls. Both times he played down the wrong line. The off-spinner Paul Harris extracted prodigious turn by landing the ball in a foot-mark as it turned in towards Gambhir and nearly clipped his off-stump. Then, Dale Steyn bowled an out-swinger close to off-stump that narrowly missed Gambhir's swinging outside edge and the stumps.
Indeed, Gambhir has got to where he is in the innings by living very perilously. Considering that he and Tendulkar are at a pivotal stage in the innings, he should take the gravity of the situation into account and play more watchfully. And then, who knows, he may even notch up a ton. India needs you, Gautam!