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August 7, 2010
Shot of the day
Kevin Pietersen's tortuous 80 was, by his own admission, among the scratchier Test innings he has ever compiled - so much so that, while he was pacing up and down the corridor during one of the day's many rain breaks, he laughed: "Which match have you been watching, mate!" when a journalist suggested he was through the worst of it. Still, there was one cathartic moment in the midst of a torrid chance-riddled innings. On 47, he clipped Mohammad Amir exquisitely through the leg-side for four to bring up his half-century. It was arguably the best shot he has played since the World Twenty20 final.
Trendsetter of the day
If Pakistan thought that a good night's sleep might sharpen up their act, they were sorely mistaken when play resumed on day two. Pietersen had not added to his overnight 36 when, in the third over, Mohammad Amir zipped an offcutter back towards the stumps, and appealed for lbw as KP adjusted late. The decision was rightly turned down because of a fat inside-edge, but unfortunately Umar Amin in the gully was seemingly unaware of that line of enquiry. The ball looped invitingly towards his fingertips, but inexplicably he let the chance drop to earth without a care in the world.
Golden arm of the day
Amin's fielding may be woeful, but he is earning himself a very tidy reputation as a go-to partnership breaker. His military medium-pace may look pretty innocuous, but he does get some prodigious movement through the air, and it can prove a handful to a batsman who drops his guard. Take Jonathan Trott, for example, who had moved calmly along to 55, and looked odds-on to become the first Warwickshire batsman to make a Test hundred at Edgbaston. However, Amin mugged him via a chop to point, to claim his third wicket in four Tests. He's never yet bowled more than six overs in any given innings.
Rumpus of the day
By a conservative estimate, Pietersen survived three clear-cut catches in the course of his 147-ball stay, but the one opportunity that actually went to hand and stayed there turned out to be the main talking point of the day. On 41, and in the third over after lunch, Pietersen backed off late as Mohammad Asif hit his delivery stride, and patted a drive half-heartedly to cover. In the same instant, umpire Marais Erasmus signalled dead-ball, leaving all manner of questions to be answered by the rule-book. According to Law 23.3.b (v), Pietersen transgressed by playing a shot to negate the dead-ball, but according to Law 23.3.b (vi), he was within his rights to pull out if distracted. He later claimed the umpire had made the call before the ball had been bowled; Asif, on the other hand, denied hearing anything. All the same, compared to The Oval in 2006, it was a dispute that barely registered on the Richter Scale.
Circus act of the day
Of all the chances that went down in the course of the day, none was quite as hideous as Salman Butt's shelling of Graeme Swann at mid-off. Even Waqar Younis, on the dressing room balcony had no option but to burst out laughing as a degenerative fielding performance reached its absolute nadir. Everything about the moment smacked of the circus big top, as Swann flipped in his stance to play the switch hit - a shot, to be fair, that he has pulled off in the past. This time, however, he merely scooped the ball tamely to Pakistan's captain (at a left-hander's mid-on), but Butt let the dolly drop straight through his fingers. Ajmal, striving to reach his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests, was unimpressed to say the least.
Ball of the day
Butt's best attempts to lead his side from the front are crumbling before his - and everyone else's - eyes. First came the dropped catch, then came the ten-ball duck that took his series tally to a sorry 16 runs from four innings. The ball that bagged him, however, was an absolute beaut, the sort that might have extracted Brian Lara in his pomp. Bowling full and fast, and with the confidence that comes with 15 wickets in three innings, James Anderson turned his man inside-out with a brutal seamer that jagged wickedly off the edge and into the clutches of Andrew Strauss at first slip. At 1 for 1 after three overs, the innings was already on the skids.
Single of the day
Yesterday, Azhar Ali compiled a 32-ball duck, the 15th-slowest in the history of Test cricket. Today, he hadn't escaped his pair when, from his 44th runless delivery of the match, he was adjudged caught-behind off Stuart Broad, only for the decision to be overturned on review - a rarity for Azhar, who was memorably luckless in his flirtations with UDRS at Trent Bridge. Three balls later, he poked Broad into the covers and set off for a run that matched KP for duck-avoidance desperation. But he made his ground, just, to escape another layer of ignominy.
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