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March 5, 2008
Catch of the day
Alastair Cook is a man of many talents. He's England's finest young batsman in a generation, and he cooks a mean fish pie as well, as Marco Pierre White discovered before the Sri Lanka tour. But by and large his fielding skills have left much to be desired, until today that is. In the 38th over of the day, with England in desperate need of some inspiration, he pulled off an outstanding one-handed pluck, diving full-stretch to his right in the gully to dismiss Stephen Fleming for 41. He'd already pouched a chest-high catch at slip, and suitably inspired, he followed up with another elaborate dive, this time to his left, to remove Jacob Oram. They were arguably his three classiest moments in the field in two years of international cricket.
Disappointment of the day
Steve Harmison took five wickets in England's warm-up at Dunedin last week to give the impression he'd located his mojo, but alas today he reverted to his erratic, unconvincing alter-ego. The man himself has no idea how and why he switches between personas so frequently, but today there was precious little oomph about his game. He served up a 78mph long-hop in his first over that was slashed for four to set the agenda, and though he did claim the wicket of Matthew Bell, that was largely through over-confidence on the batsman's part, after two consecutive boundaries. England need a fresh start on this tour, but Harmison's game was stale once again.
Enigma of the day
Mathew Sinclair has one of the most eclectic Test records of all time. A double-century on debut, exactly 150 in his eighth Test and 204 not out in his 12th ... and then next to nothing for seven subsequent years. He was back in this side at the expense of Peter Fulton, and showed the exquisite side of his game with an effortless cover-drive for four off Matthew Hoggard. But then, before he could get going properly, he was gone, chipping a simple catch to Paul Collingwood's part-time seamers.
Innings of the day
Jamie How burst into the public conscience during New Zealand's one-day series win, not least at Napier where he produced a superb 86-ball century. Nobody quite realised he had such strokes in his repertoire, least of all, one suspects, the man himself. He had a previous Test-best of 37 from six matches, but on the strength of those performances he was included in the Test side at the expense of Craig Cumming. It just goes to show what a part confidence plays for a cricketer. Up until tea he could do no wrong as he eased into the nineties. But then, upon the resumption, he tensed up as if gripped by vertigo, and Monty Panesar took full toll. It was a disappointing end, but very much a new beginning.
Injury of the day
When Ian Bell got in the way of a full-blooded pull from his namesake, Matthew, the general consensus was that his series was over before it had begun. The injury occurred in the 11th over of the day, when Bell flung up his hands in self-defence at short leg, and was hit flush on the side of the right wrist. The swelling was visible even before he left the pitch, but happily an X-ray at the local hospital revealed no break. Instead he was put in a sling and left to recover in the team dressing-room.
Shot of the day
After his 52-ball century for Otago against Auckland on Sunday, anything that Brendon McCullum produced here was going to seem tame by comparison, but his idea of a plodding innings is still blistering by anyone else's standards. New Zealand had been in a spot of trouble at 191 for 5 when he came out to join Ross Taylor, but a near run-a-ball 51 carried his team back into the box seat. He brought up the fifty partnership with his angriest shot of the innings, a down-on-one-knee slog-sweep for six off the otherwise excellent Monty Panesar.
Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Dolphins and Lahore Lions in Bangalore
The Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Kings XI Punjab and Northern Knights, in Mohali