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Plays of the day from the third ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Sharjah
Andrew Fidel Fernando
December 22, 2013
Even on his better days Lasith Malinga struggles to hit the stumps from close up, but in the last few months his fielding had deteriorated even further. He dropped a sitter to reprieve Mohammad Hafeez for 26, but in the 31st over, he partially redeemed himself with a sharp piece of fielding. Hafeez pushed a Malinga delivery away on the off side and seeing that only the bowler was in a position to field it, Ahmed Shehzad took off for a run. Hafeez sent Shehzad back but Malinga moved like a snake, picked up the ball cleanly, spun around and hit the stumps with his throw to find Shehzad well short.
The rookie move
Sohaib Maqsood's maturity in the first match in Dubai had belied his inexperience, but in this match he made an error typical of a brash, young player, and it cost him his wicket. He had hit Thisara Perera for two fine sixes off the first three balls of the 37th over, but perhaps overcome by a rush of blood, he saw a length ball that should have been played onto the off side, but instead attempted to clobber it over long-on. Unsurprisingly, he did not connect as he wished and was snaffled by an advancing Sachithra Senanayake about three quarters of the distance to the fence.
The opening gambit
Kumar Sangakkara has unlocked an aggressive aspect of his limited-overs game this year, but in the first two innings of the series, he had begun far more conservatively than has been his style in recent months. Today though, there was no mistaking which avatar Sangakkara had donned. Umar Gul had taken two wickets off his first five balls in the fourth over without conceding any runs, but first ball in, it didn't stop Sangakkara leaning into a sumptuous cover-drive that threaded the field and yielded four.
If it's a match against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, the cricket gods have decreed that Shahid Afridi has to do something special. He failed with the bat for the first time in the series and did not spark a collapse with the ball, but his moment would arrive in the 38th over, when he took a superb running catch to send Thisara Perera back. Perera had top edged a Junaid Khan short delivery, high into the night and straight behind the wicketkeeper, but Afridi sprinted back from short fine leg, ignored the onrushing Umar Akmal, and stretched out to snaffle a stunner.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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