New Zealand v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Wellington, 2nd day January 16, 2011

The whims of the wind, and feathered fielders

Plays of the Day on day two of the Wellington Test between New Zealand and Pakistan

The umpires' new clothes
Umpires Daryl Harper and Rod Tucker haven't had the best Test so far and Wellington's blustery conditions haven't helped . Both umpires were forced to hold their hats while officiating on day one, after having lost them to the wind on more than one occasion, and they emerged wearing less traditional sports caps on day two, hoping they were less likely to be blown off their heads. It wasn't to be though, as their new headgear had to be retrieved from various spots on the field throughout the day. Bandanas tomorrow maybe?

Throat crusher of the day
Usually when cricketers' windpipes are in danger, they are at the receiving end of a vicious bouncer, but it was a return throw that had Abdur Rehman in trouble late in the first session. Umar Gul sent the throw in from fine leg with the wind behind him, and a gust carried the ball faster and further than Rehman had accounted for. The return struck him on the oesophagus and his team-mates rushed to his aid as he doubled over, breathless.

Mad dash of the day
When Tim Southee fell with Daniel Vettori on 81, the New Zealand captain knew he didn't have long to get a hundred with only Brent Arnel and Chris Martin to follow. Vettori went on the attack. He stepped across to the off side to flick Umar Gul fine for four, before running down the pitch a few balls later to loft Rehman back over his head for the first six of the day. He even turned down several singles to keep Martin well away from the strike, but still managed to score the last nineteen runs for his ton at better than a run-a-ball.

Heart-stopper of the day
There were nervous moments before Vettori reached the milestone though, when Arnel was dismissed off the third ball of an Umar Gul over, leaving Chris Martin to face the remaining three. Martin dutifully blocked out the first delivery, but was in trouble when Gul pitched the second one short. Attempting to get on top of the bounce and play it down, Martin's bat swiveled in his hand, and the resulting edge ballooned up, almost in slow-motion as the Wellington crowd held its breath. Thankfully for Vettori it found the gap between slip and gully, and he completed his century eight balls later.

Mis-field of the day
When Azhar Ali stroked one through the infield off Tim Southee, a boundary seemed inevitable. A local pigeon that had positioned itself at deep point wasn't about to have any of it though. Selflessly, the bird put its body on the line for the local team, taking the full force of Azhar's back-foot drive firmly on the behind, only to see its efforts wasted, as the ball kicked up and continued to the rope. The bird, apparently unhurt, took to the air almost immediately, albeit a few tail feathers lighter.

Juggling act of the day
Vettori should have had Taufeeq Umar in his first over, but Reece Young's circus antics behind the stumps may just have put the umpire off. The ball spat back to take Taufeeq's inside edge on its way through to Young, but having failed to collect cleanly on his first attempt, Young tried again. And again. And again. After approximately four juggles, Young pulled off a reverse-grab at ankle height to finally complete the catch, but by this time, Vettori's stop-start appeal had petered out and the umpire had lost interest.

The teaser of the day
The Wellington wind has had a major say in proceedings thus far in the Test, and Ali can thank the local conditions for a lucky escape towards the end of the day. Attempting to slog Vettori back over his head, Azhar's bat turned in his hand and sent the ball sailing high into the air in the direction of mid-on. James Franklin backpedalled to take the chance, but the ball, aided by the stiff breeze, kept going away from him. Franklin, who had started in the infield, was within reach of the boundary when the ball finally came down, and it just escaped his grasp to land centimetres inside the rope before bouncing over.

Andrew Fernando writes for The Pigeon and blogs here

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