Plays of the day December 11, 2007

Misbah's wait, and bowling memorabilia

I'll bide my time: Misbah-ul Haq was one short of his hundred when lunch was called © AFP

Misbah's 40-minute wait
The Indian pursuit for wickets this morning had been hampered by Misbah-ul-Haq as he steadily moved towards his second Test hundred in successive matches. On the verge of the lunch break, Misbah needed one run off the final ball of Yuvraj Singh's over to get to his hundred. Anil Kumble took his time and brought all his fielders into the circle; Misbah could go over the top if he wanted. Instead, he pushed the ball towards point and set off for the single but quickly realised there wasn't one. He mulled over lunch while on 99 and ensured that the wait ended in the very first over after the break.

Tactical slip of the day
Removing the second slip isn't going to help get you quick wickets but Anil Kumble did precisely that before the start of Ishant Sharma's fourth over. Ishant pitched his next ball short of a length outside off stump, Kamran Akmal slashed hard and the outside edge flew ... you guessed it ... right where the second slip was. Immediately Kumble brought Laxman back and you couldn't help but think about the horse and its bolt.

Elbow before wicket
A short ball from Ishant didn't rise as high as Misbah thought it would and it struck him above the elbow after he turned his back towards the ball. Perhaps remembering Glenn McGrath's famous lbw appeal against Sachin Tendulkar, Ishant turned around and tried his luck. But the umpire was Simon Taufel, not Daryl Harper, and Misbah, unlike Tendulkar, had not ducked which meant the impact was ridiculously high.

One-day fields in a Test
During the 156th over of Pakistan's innings, bowled by Harbhajan Singh, the fields set by Anil Kumble would have suited a one-day match. As Pakistan whittled down India's lead, apart from a token first slip, there were only three fielders in the circle - at short fine leg, cover and midwicket. The others were stationed at long-on and long-off, deep midwicket, deep square leg and on the sweeper boundary.

Overdoing the protection
Gone are the days when Viv Richards and Richie Richardson hooked fast bowlers without a helmet. Not only were the Pakistan batsmen wearing helmets against the fiery pace of Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma but so was Dinesh Karthik. And he wasn't standing up to the stumps either.

Emphatic shot of the day
As Pakistan went past the follow-on target and beyond, the Indian bowlers began to look listless. Kumble has had an unproductive match and the lifeless pitch added to his frustration. The shot Yasir Arafat played to bring up the 500 for Pakistan summed it all up; Kumble bowled a terribly short ball, it sat up for Arafat who rocked on to the back foot and pulled powerfully in front of midwicket for four.

Ishant Sharma got a five-for in only his second Test © AFP
Arafat misses out
Most of the significant records in this match have come from India's batsmen. Arafat had a chance to pull one back for Pakistan by scoring a fifty and becoming only the eighth player - after Albert Trott, Len Braund, Frank Foster, Wally Hammond, Bruce Taylor, John Lever and Tony Dodemaide - to take a five-for and score a half-century on Test debut. However, he was cut short on 44 when Ishant breached his defences and bowled him off the inside edge.

Can I keep the ball?
After a lukewarm first spell, Ishant, from out of the blue, returned to take four wickets in six overs to wrap up the Pakistan innings. After he caught Danish Kaneria off his own bowling to pick up his fifth, Ishant went up to Rudi Koertzen and Simon Taufel to ask whether he could keep the ball in remembrance of his achievement in only his second Test. He walked off the field with the ball in his hand and a smile on his face so one can assume they said yes.

Pace does matter
Shoaib Akhtar had been missing in action since he went off the field with back pain on the first day. However, he was back where he belonged, with the new ball in hand, at the start of India's second innings. His genuine pace compensated for the lack of life in the pitch and he had the openers hopping about. He eventually sneaked one between Gautam Gambhir's bat and pad and sent the off stump for a walk. After the run-glut of the first four days, seeing the stump lying on the ground ten feet away from the other two was a refreshing sight.

George Binoy is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo