Plays of the day December 9, 2007

Happy spectators, and uncharted waters

Sourav Ganguly picks up a single during his 239 © AFP
Keeping the customer satisfied
A spectator in the crowd to the left of the press box was presumably tired of watching Sourav Ganguly and Irfan Pathan hit four after four and began to chat "We want a sixer". Soon several hundred joined in and chanted in unison and it's possible that Pathan heard them for he stepped out and lofted Danish Kaneria cleanly over the midwicket boundary the very next ball. The fans celebrated feverishly before chanting "We want another" as Kaneria ran in again.

Entering uncharted waters
Ganguly's celebration when he got to his century on the first day was subdued compared to Yuvraj Singh's, after all he'd just scored one - his first in front of his home crowd - in Kolkata and celebrated with enthusiasm. However, on the second day, the Bangalore crowd witnessed another Ganguly first - his maiden double hundred - and as he sprinted through for the second run to reach the landmark, he raised his arms in celebration. There was no fist-punching or jumping but Ganguly savoured the moment just that little bit longer. Incidentally he went on to beat Vinod Kambli's 227 for the highest score by an Indian left-hander.

Doing it in style
Pathan was approaching his maiden Test century with confidence when there was a blip at the other end. After Ganguly was bowled, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were dismissed in quick succession leaving Pathan four runs away from the hundred with No 11 Ishant Sharma at the crease. Sharma survived four deliveries from Yasir Arafat but evidently didn't fill Pathan with confidence. Off the next delivery he got to face, Pathan stepped out and lofted Kaneria into the stands at deep midwicket and broke into celebration.

Desperate times
Giving a part-timer a bowl shortly before the end of a session is a common practice. The batsmen are looking forward to the break and a relatively easier bowler could cause a lapse in concentration. However, when Younis Khan turned to Salman Butt for the last over before lunch on the second day, it was more due to lack of options than anything else. Arafat, Mohammad Sami and Kaneria had toiled through the first session because of Shoaib Akhtar's forced absence and the other options were Yasir Hameed and Younis himself.

Kaneria goes down
Ganguly was timing most of his shots impeccably but the straight drive in the 111th over against Kaneria was especially well struck. It would have certainly sped towards the straight boundary had Kaneria not attempted to stop it. The ball hit him hard on his foot and he hobbled away to the side. The physio came out to check and several of the other Pakistan players gathered around. With the injury to Shoaib on the first day, Pakistan could not afford another bowler in the medical ward.

Akmal's greasy gloves
The value of his match-saving hundred in Kolkata may have distracted attention from Kamran Akmal's drop off Sachin Tendulkar and his general poor form behind the stumps. His bout of butterfingers continued in Bangalore when he grassed an edge off Pathan off the bowling of Kaneria. He's also conceded 13 byes in the first innings. It's time for another valiant hundred, Kamran.

Shoaib's forced absence
Shoaib's fitness has been an issue throughout the series and he's often gone off the field to recuperate after bowling short spells. Today, he had to spend 205 minutes on it before he would be allowed a bowl. The forced absence was because Shoaib went off the field after the 32nd over on the first day because of back pain and did not return. As it turned out, Shoaib did not bowl even after tea on the second day as India amassed a massive total.

George Binoy is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo