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Plays of the Day from the first ODI between Pakistan and South Africa, in Sharjah
Andrew Fidel Fernando
October 30, 2013
The laughable misfield
Not content to let an inept South African top order inspire all the derision in the match, Wahab Riaz put in a comical effort in the field to attract laughs himself. The best of his slapstick routine came in the 43rd over, when Lonwabo Tsotsobe struck Saeed Ajmal firmly along the ground, just wide of him at mid-off. Riaz set off quickly, but within a second, realised that the ball was heading almost straight to him, and that he was overrunning it. He attempted to stop himself, and flopped to the turf like a flying fish that suddenly went stiff midair. He dived right over the ball, never taking his eyes off it.
The horizontal collision
In an incident more befitting a rugby match, Ahmed Shehzad ended up with a split chin and a sprained wrist, and Faf du Plessis with a sore skull, when the two men bumped heads during Pakistan's innings. Misbah-ul-Haq dropped one just off the pitch on the offside and called Shehzad through for a quick single, as du Plessis approached quickly from point. Spotting the nearing fielder, Shehzad knew he had to dive, in case of a direct hit. Du Plessis dived almost simultaneously, and while horizontal, both inches off the turf, they collided at full throttle. Shehzad's helmet grille hit his chin and opened up a gash and, luckily, the unprotected du Plessis rose gingerly a minute later to find he had escaped serious injury.
The uncharacteristic dismissal
Misbah may be averse to triple-figure scores, but like a 21st century Allan Border, he has been the king of fifties in 2013 - particularly in losing causes. Having hit eight fifties in his last 11 ODI innings, Misbah was cruising towards another half-century, with almost no pressure enforced by the match situation. At 31, though, Misbah found an odd way to get out. Wayne Parnell delivered a wide half-volley and, instead of hitting it through the covers as he should have, he opened the face and lifted the ball straight into du Plessis' hands at point.
Saeed Ajmal got one to go past Graeme Smith's outside edge early in the 13th over, prompting a raucous appeal from behind the stumps, and a review. Although that did not result in a dismissal, it led to one three balls later. Smith endeavoured to get right to the pitch of the ball from then on, but when he reached forward to meet a length ball again in the over, he stretched a little too far. The ball spun past his blade, and his extended back leg slipped passed the popping crease, unbeknownst to Smith, but not eluding the notice of Umar Akmal. The keeper whipped off the bails, and oddly for a stumping in which the batsman did not go down the track, the square-leg umpire needed no video assistance to give Smith out.
Madness often follows Shahid Afridi to the batting crease, but today, insanity ensued even before he faced his first ball. Umar Akmal had been batting well but, with Afridi now at the other end, played a ridiculous shot to a straight ball, to become the second victim in Pakistan's six-wicket collapse. Shaping first to play a sweep, then backing out because the ball was too short, Akmal offered an awkward, angled prod that got nowhere near a ball that, by right, probably deserved to be whipped through the leg side. To make matters worse, although Akmal was struck flush on the pad in front of middle and off, he used a review, after conferring with Afridi, which of course, confirmed he was undoubtedly out.
The wild slog
Afridi had hit Imran Tahir for four in his previous over, but in the 44th over, he played a shot that constituted Pakistan's biggest step on the path to destruction. With only seven needed to win, and three wickets remaining, Afridi could probably have hit another Tahir long hop safely for four, but instead he attempted to tie the match with a six. Swinging wildly across the line, and connecting only with the top half of the bat, Afridi sent one straight into the hands of deep midwicket. The dismissal had South Africa truly believing they could win the match, for the first time.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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