Pakistan v England, 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi February 15, 2012

Akmal still Pakistan's biggest worry

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the second ODI between Pakistan and England in Abu Dhabi

Drop of the day
Alastair Cook had only made 28 when he edged a delivery from Shahid Afridi. It should have been a routine catch for the wicketkeeper but instead the ball bounced straight into and then straight out of the iron gloves of Umar Akmal. It was a reminder that, for all his ability as a batsman, Akmal is, at present, some way short of the required standard for an international keeper. Cook went on to score another 74 runs and play the match-defining innings. Pakistan must decide whether to persevere with Akmal in the hope of improvement or rethink the balance of their side. At present, Umar is losing them more games with the gloves than he is winning with the bat.

Run-out of the day
Imran Farhat was batting well. He had just thumped James Anderson over mid-on and, as Pakistan reached 92 for one in the 22nd over, he seemed to be pacing the reply nicely. But then, having edged a Stuart Broad yorker on to his pads, he lost track of the ball and, belatedly realising that it had rolled obligingly into the hands of the bowler, was unable to regain his ground before Broad's throw hit the stumps. It was an alert piece of work by Broad but a somewhat sloppy end to a decent innings from Farhat.

Cool head of the day
Sometimes it takes confidence to remain scoreless. It takes composure to battle through the barren periods without allowing the pressure to build or force a batsman into a rash stroke. Alastair Cook did not score from his first nine deliveries and, in the first three overs of the England innings, there were only two scoring strokes. The powerplay overs were ticking by but Cook is not the type to allow himself to be flustered. He is batting with immense assurance and backed himself to come through a testing period. As it was, he scored from his tenth delivery and it happened to be a high-class shot: a back foot drive through extra cover off Aizaz Cheema that skimmed to the boundary. Cook never looked back and became the first England captain to register successive ODI centuries.

Choice of the day
Misbah-ul-Haq preferring Aizaz Cheema to Umar Gul in the final overs of the England innings. It was a brave decision. Cheema had delivered three wides in succession in his first over, one of which went to the boundary. Gul is the senior seamer, having played 93 more ODIs than his junior partner but the choice paid off with Cheema conceding 18 in a three-over spell that ended the innings. Bearing in mind that England had seven wickets in hand with six overs to go, that represented a decent return from Cheema.

Catch of the day
The game was in the balance, 72 were required from 68 balls and Umar Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq had looked fairly comfortable in adding 37 in six overs. Then Akmal cut Steve Finn to cover where Samit Patel dived low to his left and clung on to a low catch. Indeed, so low was it that the third umpire was called to clarify the legitimacy of the catch. Patel could be forgiven for feeling particularly satisfied: he had spent some time the previous day defending his weight, his fitness, his diet and his fielding to a group of journalists. Here he proved his point in the most eloquent way of all - with his performance.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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