Getting a full Plunket Shield match is often a miracle but the unusuals added up on the final day of the Wellington vs Otago clash to present the most bizarre dismissal of 2020. Tom Blundell was ruled out obstructing the field after the opener comically ended up botch-kicking and handling the ball.
Rain, more often than not, rules the roost in Plunket Shield matches and even when it doesn’t, rarely do games go the distance, to the very final day. Surprisingly enough, the crunch clash between Wellington and Otago transcended the norm - well, just about. Ending Day 3 on 185/7, Wellington needed 94 more runs on the final day to script fine victory, and, to their delight, they had a well-set Tom Blundell batting on 101*.
But well, with victory in sight, tragedy struck Blundell and Wellington in the very second over of Day 4 - in the most comical fashion imaginable. On the second ball of the 55th over, with conditions overcast and with plenty of lateral movement available, speedster Jacob Duffy, who already had seven wickets to his name, steamed in and delivered a back-of-a-length delivery outside off stump, in an attempt to nick Blundell off. Blundell, batting with confidence on 101*, played the most perfect, textbook back-foot block imaginable. But just when he thought he’d negated the delivery, tragedy struck the opener.
As Blundell blocked the ball off the surface on his back-foot, the red cherry, after hitting the ground, due to the reverse-spin on it, rose up and started moving towards the direction of the batsman and the stumps. Blundell, who quickly sensed the danger of the ball potentially hitting the stumps, tried to ‘thigh-kick’ it away but to his dismay, he ended up deflecting the ball further towards the sticks. The botched thigh-kick made the ball hitting the stumps almost inevitable so with no option left, Blundell brought out the “Hand of God” and palmed it away.
The opener palmed it away in the hope of protecting his wicket but well that wasn’t to be, as after the fielding side, Otago, appealed to the umpire, Blundell was ruled out for “Obstructing the Field”. Blundell’s wicket turned out to be the final nail in Wellington’s coffin as they were eventually bowled out for 194, losing the game by 84 runs.
An interesting day in the Plunket Shield, if you may call it.