England v New Zealand, 4th ODI, The Oval June 25, 2008

A tough day for KP


You silly boy: Kevin Pietersen fell for second-ball duck to the disappointment of The Oval crowd © Getty Images
 
Tennis shot of the day
For all its warts, one-day cricket has revolutionised batting mostly for the better. Orthodoxy hasn't so much been thrown out as put on temporary leave, and for one of England's most conventional batsmen, Ian Bell, it can be somewhat of a shock to see such a mousy figure roar into such exuberant strokeplay. Offered a free-hit from the enthusiastic Mark Gillespie, he flat-batted it over extra cover - a shot Andy Murray, Britain's great (only) tennis hope, might play more often than Bell. In the next over, he oozed a back-foot drive with the sort of finesse Murray himself began to show in his victory over Fabrice Santoro yesterday in SW19.

Reflex of the day
The standard of a side's fielding can often be directly correlated to their confidence. New Zealand's outfielding during their timid show in the Test series drifted from average to lacklustre, yet the return to coloured clothing has lifted all facets of the tourists' game. This was no better exemplified than by Ross Taylor's outstanding pluck at short midwicket, pawing a bludgeoned pull from Luke Wright to take it high to his left. Taylor's occasional unbalanced approach at the crease often leads to his downfall, but here in the field he was beautifully poised to take a breathtaking snaffle.

Shoddy shot of the day
When Kevin Pietersen's fearless extravagance comes off, he is lauded rather over generously as a "genius". If they don't, the tut-tutters' chorus is deafeningly loud, as it was today when he fell for a two-ball duck. Gillespie had bundled in energetically, finding encouraging bounce on a typically springy Oval pitch, but produced one which cut away from Pietersen's ambitious pull. The skying top-edge was safely pouched by Tim Southee, and yet again a promising England start was left, well, just that: merely promising.

"Where did that come from?" shot of the day
England had dawdled to 105 for 4 in the 26th over, Southee and Vettori tying England down with intelligent changes of pace. All of a sudden, Owais Shah - on 1 at the time - responded with a thrilling cross-batted ping over midwicket for a flat, fiercely struck six, piercing England's static run-rate in a bold attempt to chivvy them along.

Mature young bowler of the day
Like Stuart Broad for England, Southee continues not only to improve with each match, but he is demonstrating a wisdom that belies his fresh-faced youthfulness. Both his first two wickets owed as much to his disciplined line than anything. Rectifying his wide delivery to Bell which was clattered for four, his next ball was tight on the off stump and quicker, Bell nibbling it through to the wicketkeeper. Collingwood received a similarly nagging line, attempting a meek cut to shatter his stumps. England's fortunes were quickly going Southee.

Bruiser of the day
Taylor knocked Pietersen off his perch during New Zealand's chase, not by crunching strokeplay but by his grill. Stealing a quick single off James Anderson, Taylor hurtled into Pietersen - whose eye was on the ball, waiting for it to come in - and he was floored by Taylor's helmet which hammered into his cheek. Not often is Pietersen left speechless, but he had nothing to add other than an understandable expletive.

Drop of the day
For someone laded with batting talent, it has always confused Middlesex members that Shah should be such a butter-fingers in the field. The set-up is all there: crouching low, hands moving as one into position. Yet somehow, and far too regularly for everyone's comfort, the ball invariably whizzes through as if his skin has been pasted in high-grade lard. It happened again today when Scott Styris slashed one straight infront of his face at slip, though he's not the only Englishman to struggle. Styris was dropped a further two more times, on 27 and 28 for good measure, but Shah's was le clanger grande without doubt.

Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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