Plays of the day July 2, 2008

Younis' century push-ups and Malik's no-show


Leave it, captain: Sarfraz Ahmed gets his hands first to the ball after Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit one high up in the air © AFP
 

No-show of the day
After Shoaib Malik missed Pakistan's training session on Tuesday, vice-captain Misbah-ul-Haq was asked about captaincy at the pre-match press-conference. But in a short while, Salahuddin Ahmed, Pakistan's chief selector, announced Malik would play, and named the XI about 20 hours before the match, a policy of clarity one usually doesn't associate Pakistan with. As it turned out, Malik, who had suffered from severe dehydration and had been on a drip, had to pull out just before the start of the match. So much for certainty.

Here today, gone tomorrow
Sohail Tanvir had had, despite a mauling of the other bowlers by Sri Lanka, an impressive last game. Starting off with a maiden over, he had taken 5 for 48. On Wednesday, though, Gautam Gambhir was in no mood to let him settle down, and he took ten runs off Tanvir's first over. Similar treatment followed throughout: by the fourth over he had given away 43, and by the time he was done he had rid Wahab Riaz of the honour of having conceded the most runs in a match against India. Figures of 10-0-87-1 straight after a five-for, welcome back to earth Mr Tanvir.

Somebody call, please
When Mahendra Dhoni mishit Sohail Tanvir in the 49th over, the ball went miles in the air towards square leg. Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper, and Misbah, from midwicket, ran in to catch the ball, and as they ran towards each other it seemed the square-leg umpire Tony Hill would be crushed between the two. Eventually Hill survived, but Sarfraz and Misbah collided, not nastily, though. Dhoni was the only casualty as Sarfraz held on to the catch.

He's pumped
When he crashed Praveen Kumar to reach his fifth century - his third against India - and the second in less than a month, Younis Khan looked towards the dressing room and did a couple of push-ups. Possibly that was his tribute to David Dwyer, Pakistan's trainer, who pushes him hard in training. It could, on an evil note, be a message to recent Pakistani centurions who have been cramping on the way to the landmark.

Nearly man arrives
Misbah has brought Pakistan back from improbable situations a few times, and then in a sudden brain-freeze thrown the good work away too. In his first match as captain, in a match they needed to win to avoid elimination, Misbah made sure he was there at the end of a brilliant turnaround; he scored 70 not out in 62 balls. In fact he hit the winning boundary, and pointed straight to the dressing room with his bat. Here's to the hitherto nearly man of Pakistan cricket.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo