Plays of the day November 25, 2007

Silencing the crowd, and advice for budding bowlers

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Even Rahul Dravid's immaculate defensive technique was no match for Shoaib Akhtar's exocet © AFP

Tactic of the day
It was the 83rd over and Anil Kumble brought Sourav Ganguly into the attack. Munaf Patel had bowled just one over in the morning and the immediate reaction was that he was going to change ends, with Ganguly just slipping one in before the new ball arrived. Three balls later, Kumble walked up to the umpires, had a short chat and out came the new ball. There was some suggestion that the ball going out of shape had caused the early change but the result was immediate. Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's most dangerous batsman in the match, thought it best to take Ganguly on and ballooned a catch towards midwicket. Mohammad Sami fell two balls later and the match was well and truly headed in India's direction.

Ball of the day
So devastating was Shoaib Akhtar's exocet to Rahul Dravid that it halted a giant Mexican wave in the stands. Few bowlers have breached Dravid's defence but this one was near-unplayable: pitching on a good length, angling in from off and veering towards leg. Dravid proffered what looked like a compact front-foot defensive but the ball was too quick, and too crafty. Sneaking through the gap, it rocketed into leg stump and split the match open. As the crowd watched in hushed silence, Shoaib took off in his airplane celebration. The speed gun said 144kph but couldn't quantify the ferocity that led to 45,000 being silenced.

Cover drive of the day
Mohammad Sami was providing Shoaib with fine support at the other end. But Ganguly was in the mood for a counter-attack. Not afraid to go for his shots, he moved forward and caressed a full one from Sami past cover. Ganguly cut the mounting tension with timing so sublime, that he thought it best to hold the pose for the cameras. It was a while before the cover fielders moved too.

Trip of the day
It's disappointing to see a close appeal being turned down but Danish Kaneria found himself flat on the pitch by the end of it. He'd bowled a quicker one, forced Tendulkar on the back foot, and hurried him. If not for an inside edge onto the pad, Kaneria would have had a wicket. What followed, though, was comic. He turned around, waved his hands in a wild appeal and ran back, only to see his legs get caught in each other. It all ended with a mighty thud as Kaneria fell flat on his back. As he rubbed his head in disbelief, Simon Taufel, the umpire, let out a smile. Talk about rubbing salt in the wounds.

Stoical quote of the day
Sohail Tanvir has enjoyed a fine debut so far, getting the wickets of Dravid and Ganguly in the first innings, but he didn't think too much of it when asked about it. "The day a bowler says he's satisfied about his performance, he'll stop improving."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo