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May 31, 2010
Catch of the day
England were a frustrated outfit in the first half-hour of play. With the ball hooping nicely under overcast skies, they believed that a breakthrough was only a matter of time, but with Shakib Al Hasan and Junaid Siddique getting into line to each and every delivery, the overs were ticking by and the vital shine on the new ball was being scuffed with every delivery. But then, at last, from what Michael Vaughan declared on air to be the "worst ball of the morning", Steven Finn offered up a long-hop outside off stump, and Shakib cracked it fiercely out to point, where Eoin Morgan barely had time to react. The ball, however, popped up invitingly off the base of his palms and was snatched at the second attempt.
Bowler of the day
Once again Steven Finn's height, pace and accuracy proved to be an irresistible combination for a Bangladesh batting line-up that battled hard but lost wickets in clusters whenever their opponents got on a roll. In the first innings, Finn had come within a whisker of a five-wicket haul, only for James Anderson to sweep through the lower-order and deny him his place on the honours board. Second time around, however, Finn got the rewards for his endeavours with 5 for 87, and he might well have become the first England bowler since Ian Botham in 1978 to make his mark on the ten-wicket board, had his strange habit of falling over in his followthrough not persuaded Andrew Strauss to save his 6'7" frame from self-harm. MCC were relieved that he did so - back in April, an online promotion had offered a full refund in the event of any bowler taking ten wickets, and Lord's was looking at a £42,000 dent in their coffers had Finn claimed one more scalp.
Aberration of the day
Perhaps Bangladesh already felt that the chance of the draw had gone, but the manner in which their innings ended was soft in the extreme. Mahmudullah, a man with a Test century to his name, had batted with aplomb for 48 deliveries, and with the No. 11, Robiul Islam, camped at the other end, he needed to see out five more balls to take his team through to lunch, a vital milestone in their bid for a rare Test draw. But when Tim Bresnan banged in a short ball, Mahmudullah couldn't resist having an airy mow, and Matt Prior behind the stumps clung onto a thin top-edge. It meant that England were left with exactly two sessions in which to chase 160. Had the final pair been able to extend the target up towards 200, their bowlers might just have had a chance to exert some control.
Image of the day
On a Bank Holiday Monday, with a wonderfully (and let's be honest, unexpectedly) entertaining Test match heading into its decisive final day, the marketing folk at Lord's came up with a masterstroke. By announcing that tickets for the final day would be £10 for adults and free for kids and OAPs, they lured the undecided masses out of their houses, with some 9200 people queuing for half a mile down the Wellington Road to gain entry. What is more, those that made the effort were rewarded with a rare treat, the chance to wander on the hallowed turf, no less, during the lunch break. It was speculated that this was the first occasion that the crowd had been invited onto the field during an ongoing Lord's Test since play was interrupted by a bomb scare back in 1973. But in other parts of the world, including South Africa and New Zealand, such scenes are a regular and welcome feature of the Test experience. Let's hope it sets a similar precedent here.
Innings of the day
Despite making a healthy impression with the bat, Andrew Strauss hasn't had the most enjoyable of returns to the helm. His captaincy seemed off the pace during Bangladesh's spells of dominance with the bat, and it's hard to escape the feeling that he regrets taking his hand off the tiller during an eventful start to 2010. But on the final afternoon, he enjoyed a bit of a release, wrapping up the Test with a free-flowing 82. The first ball of the innings, from Shahadat Hossain, was cut ruthlessly for four, and after 11 deliveries he was cruising on 20 not out. A century might just have been within reach as the end of the match drew nigh, but in his haste to seal the deal before tea, he snicked a thin edge to the keeper.
Finale of the day
Strauss's dismissal did at least give the crowd the chance to see a quick cameo from Kevin Pietersen, and he didn't undersell the theatrics. After arriving to a standing ovation, KP was quickly into his stride, cracking consecutive boundaries through square leg and backward point, before striding forward into an exaggerated forward defensive, to loud "oohs" from the stands and a broad chuckle from Strauss on the balcony. A single stole the strike and brought the scores level, but a brilliant over from Shakib tied him to the crease and robbed him of the moment of glory. By rights, tea should have been taken at that point, but Billy Bowden rightly allowed common sense to prevail, and it was Jonathan Trott who whipped the winning boundary through midwicket.
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