McIntosh fires, a sight-screen misfires
Comforting moment of the day
On the flattest of pitches at Motera, Tim McIntosh had made a pair, falling to Zaheer Khan both times. He had faced no other bowler in the match. Today, on a juicier surface in Hyderabad, McIntosh remained strokeless in the opening exchanges against Zaheer and played out two maiden overs. The moment he finally got to face another bowler, though, off the last ball of the sixth over, McIntosh strode forward and drove Sreesanth through covers for four. The confidence had clearly grown, for when he faced his 15th delivery from Zaheer, McIntosh played a square drive through point - his first scoring shot off the bowler.
Let-off of the day
Martin Guptill had blown it. Dropped for the disastrous tour of Bangladesh, and not selected to play at Motera, he had got his chance in Hyderabad and he had blown it, by nicking Sreesanth to MS Dhoni. He had nearly walked off the ground and Ross Taylor had almost reached the pitch when word reached him that Sreesanth had over-stepped and the umpire Kumar Dharmasena had checked with the third umpire late. Guptill wore a sheepish smile as he walked past Taylor towards the middle to resume his innings. He would get another lucky break soon after, when Dhoni failed to catch an edge, and he made his luck count.
Unexpected shot of the day
New Zealand had seen off the new ball, hit only five fours and were chugging along at fewer than three an over in the first 20. The discussions had switched to whether the threatening clouds would cause a rain interruption when Guptill put the cricket back in focus by taking a neat step down to Harbhajan Singh and lofting him over the long-on boundary. The attack came out of nowhere and its follow-through was full but not lavish. A graceful pick-me-up the session needed.
Nuisance of the day
Play being held up by malfunctioning sight-screens is perhaps the most annoying interruption in cricket. How hard can it be to put a well-oiled sight-screen in place? Before the second over began after lunch, the sight-screen at the North End decided to act up. It refused to change from displaying the sponsor advertisement to white, and at one stage it showed one half of two logos. Having failed to fix it, the groundstaff attempted to move it out of the batsman's view by wheeling it to one side. It refused to budge though. There was little choice but to turn violent and, with a couple of shoves, the groundstaff toppled the stubborn sight-screen onto its back and out of view. It had served little purpose anyway because the region behind it was draped with white sheets.
Over-dressed fielder of the day
In the 60th over during the final session, McIntosh went back to a long-hop from Harbhajan and cut hard towards cover-point, where the ball was intercepted by a fielder. Nothing unusual about it, except the fielder was wearing a helmet and shin pads. Gautam Gambhir had been stationed at short leg for new batsman Taylor and didn't bother shedding the extra gear when he was moved to cover-point for McIntosh. Just as well he didn't have to chase anything.
Revelation of the day
McIntosh is a big batsman, taller than Dhoni, who was crouched behind him for the entire day. And yet he almost never showed any sign of power. McIntosh scored 25 runs in the morning session, 30 in the second and toiled for them. Virender Sehwag had come close to 100 in the first in Ahmedabad. And then McIntosh played an astonishing stroke. Shelving the steers, glances and economical drives that had brought him five fours, he took two steps forward to Pragyan Ojha and lifted him over the midwicket boundary. At first it appeared as though the ball might just clear the in-field - so light was his touch - but it went the distance.
Landmark of the day
When McIntosh drove Harbhajan to deep mid-on to reach his century, the first by a New Zealand opener away from home since Stephen Fleming at Trent Bridge in 2004, there was initially little applause. Only when he raised his arms aloft and celebrated the achievement did the spectators realise and give him a cheer. The fault was not theirs, though, because the scoreboard at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium shows only the team's total and no scores for individual batsmen. McIntosh was obviously counting.