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December 12, 2007
In the end, a happy birthday
Yuvraj Singh turned 26 today and the giant screen let everyone know by flashing a "Happy birthday Yuvi" message. A section of the crowd took up the cue and started singing the birthday song, and when Yuvraj came out to bat the cheers grew louder. It seemed to go all wrong for him, though, as his nervy innings was cut short when Rudi Koertzen adjudged him caught behind though the ball had not quite hit the bat. He got a birthday surprise, though, when he came on to bowl and picked up two wickets - yielding his best- ever Test figures - as Pakistan lurched to the edge.
First wide of the match
There had been several no balls, plenty of byes and leg byes but not a single wide in the first 372.4 overs of the match. Mohammad Sami ruined that splendid record by pitching one so short that it sprang several feet over VVS Laxman's head. There was no way Laxman could play any sort of shot at that and Koertzen had no option but to call it wide.
An injury waiting to happen
The signs were ominous early in the day when a few short balls hardly rose and struck Sourav Ganguly on the body as he ducked into them. Ganguly, after taking one such blow from Shoaib Akhtar, shook his head and walked all the way down the pitch to have a word with Rahul Dravid. However, the more serious incident occurred in the first over after lunch when VVS Laxman ducked into a 135kmh short ball and got hit flush on his unprotected elbow. He dropped his bat in pain and walked away, clutching his arm in obvious pain. He eventually had to go off the field after John Gloster's magic spray failed to do the trick. When play resumed, Shoaib steamed in and let another short ball rip at Irfan Pathan.
The catch that wasn't
Early in his innings, Dinesh Karthik played a firm flick off Danish Kaneria which sent Faisal Iqbal scurrying for cover at forward short leg. The ball cannoned into his helmet and rebounded towards Younis Khan at silly point who flung the ball in the air in celebration after taking the 'catch'. The law, however, says you cannot be given out if the ball goes off the helmet, so Karthik stood his ground while the Pakistan players got together. The umpires Simon Taufel and Koertzen had a brief discussion before giving Karthik correctly not out.
A record missed
Sourav Ganguly was batting with such fluency in the second innings that his march towards a hundred seemed inevitable. However, on 91, Ganguly flashed at a wide one from Sami and watched Iqbal take the catch at gully. He fell nine runs short of becoming only the seventh batsmen to score a double-century and a century in the same match. The first six were Doug Walters, Lawrence Rowe, Sunil Gavaskar, Graham Gooch, Brian Lara and Greg Chappell.
Worst fielder of the day
Mohammad Yousuf was the poorest by some distance. Early in the first session he gift-wrapped four runs to Rahul Dravid by letting Yasir Hameed's throw slip between his legs while backing up at the bowler's end. He topped that soon after lunch by grassing an absolute sitter off Irfan Pathan at mid-off.
Freebie of the day
Karthik was under pressure when he came in to bat. He hadn't made a substantial score in the series; his wicketkeeping was shoddy in the first innings and it showed in his edgy body language when he began his second innings. Danish Kaneria kindly helped him by lobbing up a friendly full toss on leg stump. Karthik gratefully accepted, pulling it over midwicket for six and went on to score 52 from 67 balls.
Timid decision of the day
As the day ended with the Indians in the middle waiting in vain for the light to improve, you couldn't help but feel that Anil Kumble left his declaration a little too late. Chasing 300 on a fifth day pitch is difficult enough but the Indians batted on until an hour after lunch to set a target of 374 from a minimum of 48 overs. As it turned out, Pakistan were left needing 212 runs off a possible 11 overs with only three wickets in hand.
Organisational screw-up of the day
As soon as bad light halted play, some enterprising soul tried to help the situation by switching on the floodlights at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. There was one slight problem. As per the playing conditions, teams had agreed that artificial lights would not be used in this series. The agreement was for consistency's sake because the venue for the first Test, the Feroz Shah Kotla, did not have floodlights. Officials scurried about trying to get the lights switched off for only then could the umpires take a reading on their light meters.
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches
Bide your time, put your body behind each delivery, and play with the batsman's mind