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ESPNcricinfo's Plays of the Day from the third ODI between England and India at The Oval
September 9, 2011
Shy of the day
Under brooding skies and against a tentative opposition, James Anderson made the new ball talk and was responsible for each of the first four wickets to fall. Three of them were regulation victims of his line, length, seam and swing, but one of them - Rahul Dravid - succumbed to Anderson's not-insubstantial second string. There aren't many fast bowlers, and certainly none on the Indian team, who can match Anderson's mobility as a fielder, and when Dravid was slow to respond to a push to mid-off, a dead-eyed pick-up-and-shy caught him six inches from the crease.
Shy of the day Mk 2
MS Dhoni has tried everything to keep India afloat on this tour. He's scored runs (eventually), he's kept wicket (with intermittent lapses), he's even bowled some very tidy overs of swing. And today he resorted to being an outfielder, to haul India back into a contest that had tilted England's way after a break for rain had drawn the sting of India's spin attack. A tidy delivery from Suresh Raina had cannoned off Ian Bell's pad and away into space on the leg side, and the batsman contemplated running a single. However, he hadn't reckoned on Dhoni haring round from behind the stumps, picking up with one hand and shying off-balance before Bell could regain his ground.
Shot(s) of the day
Graeme Swann had a theory as to why Raina has been such a transformed character in the one-day leg of India's tour. Perhaps, Swann suggested, his 42-ball pair on this ground during the fourth Test had caused him to think "sod it, let's have a swing". If that's the case, then Raina's new philosophy was both friend and foe on this occasion. First, in the 13th over, with India floundering on 30 for 4, he got himself right underneath a length ball from Anderson and battered it with eye-popping force over midwicket for six. But five overs (and seven runs) later, he tried the same kitchen-sink approach against Stuart Broad, and feathered a thin edge through to Kieswetter.
Support of the day
On Mike Atherton's disastrous Ashes tour of 1994-95, the term "Barmy Army" was first coined by the Australian press to describe the delirious optimism of the travelling English support. These die-hard fans kept turning up to every single game, regardless of their team's humiliations, and cheered every pyrrhic victory with an enthusiasm that was at once heroic and baffling. Something of the same could be said of the massed ranks of Indian fans who made up at least a third of the Oval support on Friday evening. One supporter on Twitter suggested that he and his fellow countrymen should be known as the "Crazy Desis", which had a ring to it, especially at 58 for 5. But from the moment Dhoni's fifty gave them something tangible to cheer, the decibel levels had only one way to go. It was stirring stuff.
Spectator of the day
Not so long ago, Lalit Modi was the public face of the Indian cricket board, these days his profile is somewhat subdued. So much so that his surprise appearance at The Oval today was his first at an India match since he was shunted out of office in April 2010. He turned up as a guest of the Fire in Babylon producer Ben Goldsmith, tweeted a (very bad) photo of Graeme Swann bowling, then left during the rain break bemoaning the soggy end to what had promised to be a thrilling finale. Turns out he should have hung around, but then again, anything more than 20 overs was never really his bag.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
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