Plays of the day December 10, 2007

The reverse-sweeping dilemma

Younis Khan's trusted reverse-sweep finally led to his downfall © AFP

Distraction, destruction
The afternoon session was meandering along without much excitement when a bit of drama occurred in the 71st over. Mohammad Yousuf, visibly angry at something that had happened, walked towards Anil Kumble at gully. Yousuf was seething and gestured towards Kumble, who had a few words with him and patted him on the back. On returning to his crease, Yousuf wasn't becalmed and had a word with the umpires Simon Taufel and Rudi Koertzen. Three balls later, clearly irked, he had a chat with Harbhajan Singh. All the talking evidently disturbed his concentration because he drove loosely at the last ball of the over - a wide one from Irfan Pathan - and sliced it straight to Yuvraj at point.

To reverse or not to reverse
The reverse-sweep has been a productive shot for Younis Khan, especially against Harbhajan, throughout the series. Today he reverse-swept Harbhajan to the third man boundary in the last over before lunch and off the first ball of Harbhajan's third spell. However, it was Harbhajan who had the proverbial last laugh. He went round the wicket in his next over and, when Younis tried to reverse-sweep against the different angle, he missed and was bowled.

The Midas touch
Midway through the morning session, the Monday crowd began to cheer loudly though no wicket had fallen, nor were they on camera. The buzz was because Sunday's hero, Sourav Ganguly, had been given a bowl. The anticipation built up as he ran in but dissipated once Younis square-drove the first ball to the boundary. However, Ganguly eventually managed to do what none of the specialist bowlers could do all morning; he induced an edge from Salman Butt and took off on a variation of Shoaib Akhtar's airplane celebration once Dinesh Karthik took the catch.

The excitement that wasn't
Runs hadn't come at a rapid pace and only one wicket had fallen in the morning session. A spectator even held up a banner which read "Dear captains, please do something to keep us awake in the afternoon." Soon enough, Kumble obliged by throwing down the stumps at the batsman's end from gully. The crowd thought India had Yousuf's wicket but they were quickly disappointed once the fielders and batsmen had taken their positions and were waiting for the next ball even before the third umpire had delivered his not-out decision.

One that slipped away
Imagine a cricket ball being bowled at a batsman at head height? On most occasions it would be a frightening prospect but not so much when the bowler is Yuvraj Singh tossing up his slow left-arm spin. During the penultimate over before tea, the ball slipped out of Yuvraj's hand and lobbed over Faisal Iqbal's head. It took everyone by surprise but not umpire Taufel who quickly signalled a no-ball.

Worst fielder of the day
In the last over of the day, Yuvraj pitched one outside off stump, the ball virtually rolled and shot between Karthik's legs for four byes. Koertzen came up to him and patted him on the helmet; it would have provided little comfort after a poor day behind the stumps. In Karthik's defense, several of the four byes came off deliveries that Ishant Sharma sprayed down leg side but a Mark Boucher or someone who has had been a regular wicketkeeper would have stopped them. And when Karthik did collect one down leg side, he did not join in Ganguly's appeal for an edge off Younis Khan.

George Binoy is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo