Umpire Virender Sharma indeed has a bull’s eye as he caught England all-rounder Ben Stokes applying saliva on the ball during the second One-day international against India in Pune. Following the observation, the umpires handed Ben Stokes a warning and doing the same another time would amount England to a 5-run penalty. England won the toss and elected to field in a bid to level the series.
The post-COVID-19 era has seen the ICC ban saliva on the ball as it poses dangers of spreading the virus. The ball used in the second ODI between India and England had to be sanitised as per protocol and umpires informed stand-in captain Jos Buttler of a strict penalty if repeated the offence. This was also the second time Ben Stokes had done so, with the first coming in the pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad last month.
England, who elected to field first, made three changes to their playing eleven for the second ODI. Regular captain Eoin Morgan had to sit out due to an injury, paving the way for keeper-batsman Jos Buttler to captain and allowing Dawid Malan to play. Liam Livingstone made his ODI debut, replacing Sam Billings, while Reece Topley came in place of Mark Wood.
Ben Stokes takes a reflex catch at slip as Reece Topley draws first blood:
Meanwhile, the match has proved to be an eventful one so far apart from the saliva incident. The ace all-rounder reacted quickly at the slip as the ball took Shikhar Dhawan’s bat’s edge off Reece Topley’s bowling. It proved to be the perfect start for England as Dhawan made a flamboyant 98 in the first ODI to shape India’s 66-run win and earn the man of the match award.