India v Pakistan, 4th ODI, Asia Cup, Dambulla

A face-off but no slip-ups

Plays of the day from game four of the Asia Cup, between India and Pakistan

Siddarth Ravindran in Dambulla

June 19, 2010

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MS Dhoni ran out Salman Butt, India v Pakistan, 4th ODI, Asia Cup, Dambulla
The Indians were sharper than usual in the field, a run-out accounting for the well-set Salman Butt © Associated Press
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Some familiar refrains
There aren't too many Indian or Pakistani expats in central Sri Lanka, and the agricultural town of Dambulla doesn't have the drawing power to pull in too many tourists, which meant the stadium was only half-full even for Saturday's much-anticipated contest. Still, a smattering of Hindi could be heard in the stands and there were plenty of Indian flags about. The chants of 'India, India' and 'Jeetega bhai jeetega', which are crowd favourites during matches in India, were frequently shouted and a Sri Lankan band even belted out a boisterous rendition of 'O Podu', a popular Tamil song from 2002.

The Gambhir and Akmal debating society
It had been a mostly good-tempered match, without much of the animosity of old, till the last ball of the 34th over during the chase. That was when Kamran Akmal pleaded insistently for a catch off Gautam Gambhir's bat, an appeal which was rightly turned down. Soon, the pair were exchanging words and MS Dhoni had to drag Gambhir away. The drinks break followed, and there was another round of getting in each others' faces before the umpires broke off the tussle.

Shot of the day
A no-contest this - Harbhajan Singh's heave over midwicket to clinch the nailbiter off the penultimate delivery. It was the end of a mixed innings from Harbhajan; two crucial sixes but six dot balls towards the end with no deliveries to waste. A few moments earlier, a crestfallen Suresh Raina had walked off the field, run out by inches, and he was the first one out to hug an enthusiastically celebrating Harbhajan.

Afridi starts in a jiffy
One of the biggest cheers during the Pakistan innings was for the entry of their captain Shahid Afridi. The fans with the 'Boom, boom' posters didn't have to wait long to see their hero doing what they had come to see. The fourth ball he faced was lashed down the ground for four, and the next was pummelled to the sightscreen to bring up the first six of the match.

No slip-ups in the cordon
There was a general improvement in India's fielding, no where more so than in the slips. First, Virender Sehwag plucked a sharp one-handed catch to his right to end Imran Farhat's struggle. But that was outdone by a blinder from Virat Kohli at first slip - newcomer Umar Amin chopped Harbhajan Singh towards first slip, where Kohli threw himself to his left and latched onto to another one-handed catch.

Running wild
India's smart fielding accounted for two other wickets as well. Salman Butt was marching towards yet another century against one of his favourite opponents, when he punched the ball towards mid-off. He set off for a single but the bowler, Ravindra Jadeja, dived to his right to field and threw the ball to the keeper to end Butt's stay at 74. Later, a rare Indian direct hit got rid of Mohammad Aamer.

The wicketkeeper delivers
Kamran Akmal had already shown his value as batsman with a hard-hitting half-century. His wicketkeeping skills were under the scanner yet again, though, when he fluffed an outside edge from Rohit Sharma off Shoaib Akhtar. He redeemed himself in the final over when he was on target with an underarm throw that caught Suresh Raina short when the batsman was trying to nick a bye.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

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