Plays of the day November 22, 2007

Giddy celebrations and hoarse appeals

Celebration of the day

First-day trick: Sourav Ganguly elevates himself after dismissing Mohammad Yousuf © AFP

Sourav Ganguly is making a habit of boosting India on the opening day of a Test. If Alastair Cook dismissal at Lord's allowed India to break the dominant opening partnership, Mohammad Yousuf's wicket here put them firmly on top. With a ball that pitched outside off and moved in, he rapped Yousuf on the pads and couldn't control himself when Simon Taufel responded favourably. Charging towards Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar and extending his arms in frenzy, he was a picture of sheer delight. "Looks as if he's got the world-record number of wickets," said a hack in the media centre. "More like the world-record number of appeals," joked another.

Squeals of the day

Talking of appeals, lozenge companies may be lining up to sponsor this Indian side. Appeal after appeal went up through the day, most of them being met with negative nods from the umpires. Starting with Zaheer Khan's second ball of the day, when he struck Salman Butt high on the pad, the Indians shouted, howled and, finally, implored. To the umpires' credit, there were only a couple of really close calls but the Indians, it seemed, were making up for the poor crowd response, making a lot of noise of their own.

Wild slog of the day

Shoaib Akthar's first contribution to the series was a mighty slog sweep, one attempted with such fury that it seemed intended for Rawalpindi. Shoaib obviously didn't read a straight one from Kumble and let out an expansive hoick, one that allowed a massive gap between bat and pad. The fact that it was the last ball of Kumble's over, when Shoaib could have simply tried to survive and support Misbah-ul-Haq, made it appear more foolhardy.

Entertainment of the day

Around mid-day, with India pegging away at the Pakistan middle order, spectators at the embankment to the right of the pavilion were treated to some off-field action by a vertically challenged person. Impersonating Ganguly's bowling action and Munaf's appeals, he prompted peels of laughter among the crowd. Even the police's attempts to stop him didn't find favour with the police chief himself patted the boy on the back and telling him to continue for a bit more time. Kamran Akmal's dismissal, which occurred during this period, went unnoticed in a couple of stands.

Six of the day

Mohammad Sami did a fine job hanging around but showed he was capable of the big strikes too. His mighty six towards the end of the day, off a full ball from Ganguly, soared straight into the first tier of the balcony. It was a bold statement but maybe it was also a sign of protest: the gaudy red and blue paint at the end of the ground is proving to be a major eye-sore in an otherwise impressive stadium.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo