Plays of the Day July 21, 2007

Let players drink before the game

Dileep Premachandran comes up with the plays of the third day of the Lord's Test between England and India



James Anderson got the wickets of India's big three - Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar,and Sourav Ganguly © Getty Images

Thrice as nice: Having scalped Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar on Friday, James Anderson completed a golden triangle of sorts with a magnificent delivery to Sourav Ganguly. Pitched outside his off stump, it swung late and crashed into off and middle. The five-for should breathe life into a career that's promised much and delivered very little so far.

Temper temper: With India struggling to breakthrough in the second innings, Sreesanth's frustration boiled over and a wayward shy at the stumps struck Andrew Strauss flush on the back of the thigh. As he ran in for the next ball, Strauss backed away, and Sreesanth ran down the pitch to mouth 'Sorry' before going back to his mark. And after the final rain delay, he emerged from the pavilion practising his left-arm action. Never a dull moment and all that.

Catching practice: Having already steered one delivery in the direction of the slip cordon, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's quest for perfection resulted in the deftest of slaps into the hands of Ian Bell at third slip. An appalling shot in a finely poised match, and Dhoni's day didn't improve with some clumsy takes behind the stumps. When he did finally manage to gather one down the leg side, he turned and bowed to the ground - showing an ability to smile even as his world and a dozen ad campaigns crumbled around him.

That's how it's done, boys: When Chris Tremlett pitched one a little too full, India's nightwatchman leant forward and executed a polished off-drive. Rudra Pratap Singh stuck around 40 balls for his 17. Not bad for a man with a first-class average of 9.22, and an indictment of some celebrated colleagues who could barely put bat to ball.

Simply the best: As the hype was stripped bare yet again, Michael Holding was asked how this Indian line-up compared to the all-conquering West Indians of 1984, the team of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Larry Gomes, Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd. He smiled diplomatically and said: "They haven't really lived up to the reputation, have they? Especially not away from home." The numbers may be twisted to say all sorts of things, but in reality, there's no comparison. This Indian line-up couldn't even dream of scoring 342 for victory on the final day of a Lord's Test, and in 66.1 overs at that.

Rest-room graffiti: Lord's is too polite for there to be spray-painted messages in the toilet, but next to the wash basins, there are small placards with quotes on the game. The best one comes from Paul Hogan, who played Crocodile Dundee in the cult movie. "Cricket needs a bit of brightening up," he says. "My solution is to let the players drink before the game, and not after. It works in our picnic matches."

Dileep Premachandran is associate editor of Cricinfo