India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 5th day November 16, 2010

Paybacks, missed chances and muted celebrations

ESPNcricinfo staff
Plays of the Day from the fifth day of the second Test between India and New Zealand in Hyderabad

Stamp of the day
Brendon McCullum was on 197. He had erased his previous best - a 185 against Bangladesh - and he had saved the Test. On the verge of his maiden double-century, McCullum displayed a wonderful sense of occasion by bringing it up with a shot he hadn't played so far in the innings, and one that he invented. He moved slightly towards the off side, got down on one knee, waited for Suresh Raina's delivery to reach him and played the McScoop over MS Dhoni to the fine-leg boundary. The celebrations were disproportionate to the magnitude of the achievement: he merely took off his helmet and raised his bat, acknowledging the cheers of the little boy wearing a No. 42 New Zealand jersey with McCullum's name on it.

Over-the-top reaction of the day
Another celebration on the final day was disproportionate to the magnitude of the achievement. Harbhajan Singh had just had his long appeal for lbw against Kane Williamson upheld by umpire Simon Taufel. And the moment he saw that finger go up, Harbhajan let out a fierce whoop and punched the air. It was probably a release of frustration rather than elation for he had been wicketless for 34 overs and victory had long slipped out of India's reach. Replays indicated the ball would have missed leg stump comfortably as well.

India's chance of the day
It came just after the first hour, in the 92nd over of the New Zealand innings. McCullum was batting on 148 when he pushed forward at Harbhajan and got an inside edge and flew towards the left of the fielder at forward short leg. Cheteshwar Pujara had taken a sharp catch off Tim McIntosh at that position on the fourth day, but this time he was slow to react and the ball hit his hand before he was ready to grab the opportunity.

Paybacks of the day
Daniel Vettori had suffered at Harbhajan's hands. He had watched helplessly as Harbhajan charged and smashed him over long-on and long-off for several sixes. Today, facing his third ball from Harbhajan, Vettori got down on one knee and swept to the deep midwicket boundary. Small consolation. Sreesanth had also suffered at Tim Southee's hands, wearing several bouncers on his body while he supported Harbhajan in a century last-wicket stand. He waited one ball before banging it into Southee's chest this afternoon and followed up the bouncer with a lingering, cold stare.

Mini-tussle of the day
The 129th over. McCullum decided it was time to let Sreesanth have it. He stepped out to the first ball and smashed Sreesanth over mid-off. The next delivery was shorter and wider and the fielder at point trudged to the boundary to collect it after a McCullum lash. The third was slower and McCullum attempted to whack it for six but skied it over the bowler's head instead. As McCullum ran past Sreesanth, knowing that India's best fielder Suresh Raina was settling under the ball, Sreesanth, who normally celebrates animatedly, folded his arms across his chest with a flourish and remained in mock motionlessness until and after the catch was taken.

Attack of the day
Williamson had been struck flush on the helmet by Sreesanth late last evening. This morning, he was doing the striking. Williamson glanced his first delivery, from Sreesanth, to the long-leg boundary. The shot that followed a ball later was a little Tendulkar-like: a neat, compact punch between the bowler and the stumps for four. Williamson wasn't done and he steered the next ball to the third man boundary. New Zealand took 13 runs off the first over of the day and a giant stride mentally towards saving the Test.