Plays of the day October 9, 2007

Akmal's fresh as ever, and Inzi gets the guard

Faras Ghani and Osman Samiuddin in Lahore

A knock on the head didn't seem to affect Paul Harris' batting © AFP

Paul 'Sachin' Harris
He's tormented Pakistan enough with the ball, but it was now Paul Harris' turn to do so with the bat. He arrived early this morning and took a crunching blow to the head to begin with. But the more he hung around, the better he got. Having survived a barrage of bouncers and frustrating Danish Kaneria with the sweep, he pulled out the day's glory off Mohammad Asif: a drive on the up, straight enough past the stumps, elbow high, Sachin Tendulkar's trademark stroke. It was, for Pakistan, the most dispiriting moment of the day.

Are we in Johannesburg? - III
Perhaps learning from Pakistan's mistakes earlier, Dale Steyn kept it full in his first over and Kamran Akmal duly played-and-missed on several occasions. However, reverting to the shorter length, Steyn was edged over the slips for a four, straight-driven for another, pulled past mid-on for a third, driven to cover for three and finally driven to the backward point boundary to end a 19-run over.

Guard of honour
As Inzamam-ul-Haq strode out of ODIs in Jamaica, he was given a guard of honour by his team-mates. A repeat of that, with the South African team lining up near the pitch and welcoming the local hero as he ambled in at the fall of Akmal's wicket, for what could very well be his last outing. As suggested by our very own Cricinfo journalist, it might well have been a tactic employed for a flow of emotions which, in turn, could lead to an early dismissal.

Nel kneels to pray
Pakistan's openers were tearing into South Africa's attack, Andre Nel was tearing into Pakistan and something had to give. In the 14th over of the innings, Butt left a ball from Nel that angled in and missed the stumps by a few inches. Nel's follow-through is one of cricket's great sights; this time he curved round, off the pitch and knelt down cursing his luck. Anywhere else, that would've been that. In Pakistan, during Ramadan, and on a ground where Mohammad Yousuf first knelt down in a prayer of thanks (for his double century), the gesture was significant, as the crowd's roars of approval proved.

Rattled yet again
Younis Khan, with an aggressive century in his previous Test outing a few days ago, was welcomed by a loud Lahore crowd, hoping for a repeat of aggression right from the start. Clipping his second delivery to midwicket for three, Younis was on his way. Well, until a quick delivery, prompting a rash drive, sneaked in between bat and pad to peg back Younis' off stump. A reckless shot to be dismissed cheaply again, this was the third time Younis had his stumps rattled in three consecutive innings.

Marathon man
Pakistan are in the midst of a fitness makeover and Kamran Akmal appears to be one of the beneficiaries. He told David Dwyer, the new fitness trainer, that he felt the freshest he has ever been after keeping for 90 overs under the Karachi sun. He kept here for 125 overs before calmly trotting out to open Pakistan's innings. A flurry of boundaries and a second half-century, off only 56 balls, suggests he wasn't kidding about how fresh he feels. If only he could hold on to the catches.