Plays of the day April 3, 2008

A peach, a shocker, and a killer glare

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Rahul Dravid walks away after being undone by the ball of the day © AFP
 

Ball of the day

Rahul Dravid, fresh from a workmanlike hundred in Chennai, kept out 25 deliveries but had no answer to a super delivery from Dale Steyn. It pitched on a good length in line with off stump, shaved away a tad and a knocked back off stump. Steyn mixed full deliveries with beauties pitched back of a length all morning to net 5 for 23, but that was a peach to send India's best batsman on his way.

Mission Control?
And the award for the most wonderfully responsible shot of the day goes to ... drum roll ... Mahendra Singh Dhoni. With India five down for 55 in the 14th over, and having just been let off by Hashim Alma at forward short leg, Dhoni chose to play an abominable stroke. Morne Morkel pitched wide outside off stump and a leaden-footed Dhoni reached out and edged to Mark Boucher. India's one-day and Twenty20 captain fell one wrung lower in what he has himself described as an under-achieving Test career.

On top of their game
India proved why they are the Twenty20 champs, bowled out in exactly 20 overs and 109 minutes for a paltry 76. But this was the first morning of a Test match, not a smash-a-thon in front of dizzy fans under lights. It was all so smooth yet painful to watch, if one were an Indian supporter. A couple of the shots played by the batsmen were akin to what they might have played in the last over of a Twenty20 chase. The beauty of Test cricket was perhaps never so evident.

Givin' 'em the eyeball
After their camera-intensified clash in Chennai, Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh engaged themselves in another stand-off of sorts. In the first Test Sreesanth dropped a catch off Harbhajan Singh at deep square leg, only for the bowler to retaliate by diving at point to stop a Neil McKenzie drive and pointing exaggeratedly to Sreesanth, as if to say this is how it's done. Here, Graeme Smith cut Sreesanth to point, where Harbhajan misfielded. Sreesanth didn't utter a word against Harbhajan, but gave him a long, hard glare. If looks could kill ...

Jamie Alter is a staff writer at Cricinfo