ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Sri Lanka v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Group A, Colombo

Kamran Akmal sees red and old legs make hay

ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the Group A game between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Colombo

Osman Samiuddin in Colombo

February 26, 2011

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Shoaib Akhtar celebrates after picking up the crucial wicket of Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka v Pakistan, World Cup, Group A, Colombo, February 26, 2011
Shoaib Akhtar is still alive and kicking © Getty Images
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Comedy skit of the day
Somehow, Mohammad Hafeez was run-out - that is the punchline. The build-up to it was pure slapstick. First there was Kamran Akmal charging down the pitch, with possible justification, for a single to short fine leg. Hafeez didn't run, so they were both at the striker's end with the ball now back to the wicketkeeper. Akmal started walking off, but Kumar Sangakkara's throw was wild, nowhere near the stumps or anyone and Akmal, had he known it, probably could have made it back. Somehow the ball found its way to someone who wasn't falling apart and some bails were taken off somewhere.

Slip of the day
Or rather, the one that wasn't there: Kumar Sangakkara strangely began the match with only one slip. In the second over Ahmed Shehzad flashed at Thisara Perera and edged it for four, straight past where second slip should've been. Sangakkara immediately put one in place the next ball, though next over he was back down to one.

Action replay of the day
Left-arm spinners are to Kamran Akmal what red rags are to bulls. In Pakistan's opening game against Kenya, a well-set Akmal suddenly decided to charge down the pitch to Shem Ngoche, an ugly wild heave as close to the ball as China is to the US. He was well-set again at the R Premadasa when the introduction of Rangana Herath suddenly brought down the red mist. Out he charged and out he walked, even further from this ball than he was in Hambantota.

Freshest legs of the day
The partnership between Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan was the key one for Pakistan. The pair put on 108 runs, at almost a run-a-ball through the middle of the innings and there were hardly any boundaries in it. Instead, at the combined age of 68 years, the pair gave an absolute masterclass in middle overs running. They began by taking the easy singles, but soon began to pinch audacious ones hit straight to fielders. And as the stand grew, there was the deftest placement for a number of doubles between square leg and deep midwicket. In all there were 65 singles and ten doubles.

Wicket of the day
Thirty-five years old, a near-permanent limp and a more colourful past than Charlie Sheen, yet somehow Shoaib Akhtar is alive and kicking it at the World Cup. Each over leaves him looking like a boxer who's just finished ten rounds, yet in he runs again for another, consistently quick, over. He bowled without luck against Kenya and seemed to be going the same way here. Then, in his second spell he trundled in to Mahela Jayawardene and suddenly knocked back his middle stump with an in-dipper. As a spectacle, nothing beats it still.

Worst audition for Stumpy the tournament mascot of the day
The first leg-side stumping Kamran Akmal missed of Kumar Sangakkara was understandable, though better wicketkeepers would've pouched it. But the second miss, off the bowling of Abdur Rehman again, was a true Akmal clanger; Sangakkara was miles out, the ball wasn't even that far down the leg-side and Akmal knocked the bails off swiftly enough. He just didn't have the ball with him.

Pre-match prophecy of the day
"He bats a little, he is a very good fielder and the way he is bowling, from what I've seen, he is the best spinner here." After the Chamara Silva drop, please note Abdur Rehman's second quality that Waqar Younis, Pakistan coach, highlighted on Friday.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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