Plays of the day October 10, 2007

A bearded tribute and Boucher's 400

Faras Ghani and Osman Samiuddin in Lahore

Makhaya Ntini finally rose from slumber © AFP

Ntini triple-strike
Makhaya Ntini hasn't had his best series so far. Until this afternoon, he had taken a single wicket and looked flatter than the pitches he had been served. Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, was asked yesterday about Ntini's form and his response was prescient. "I am sure he will contribute at some point during this Test. He just needs a little luck." Ntini duly obliged, with three wickets in one over to hasten Pakistan's abysmal first innings. He was only a few inches short of a hat-trick, but given his form, he probably wouldn't mind too much.

Boucher reaches 400
The Ntini triple-strike will be remembered not only by the bowler himself, but a certain Mark Boucher as well, who, after equalling Ian Healy's record for most Test dismissals in the first Test, reached the magic 400 figure today. Danish Kaneria's edge may have been the simplest of takes of Boucher's career but one he is certain to remember for years to come as not many on the field would have noticed the milestone amid the celebration.

The last Test Inzamam-ul-Haq will play has not been a memorable one so far. Much rested on him overnight, but he was out to the sixth ball he faced this morning - an unsure fiddle outside the off stump - leaving him six short of breaking Javed Miandad's record for most Test runs by a Pakistan batsman. In the field, Inzi was Inzi. He let one cover drive from Jacques Kallis go straight through his legs for a boundary. Two overs later though, he dived - or lay down quickly - to get his hands to another cover drive, denying Kallis a boundary. With South Africa on their way to setting a huge target, Inzi has only one more opportunity to put a special stamp on his last Test.

Beards are us
It was the discussion that dominated the day: was the sudden facial hirsuteness (calling them beards might be stretching it) exhibited by Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis a tribute to one of the greatest beards of all, Inzamam-ul-Haq? After the guard of honour yesterday it wouldn't be a surprise. No one from the South African camp was available for comment on the issue, further fueling rumours, after Andre Nel's sajda yesterday, that the three were contemplating a change of faith.

Light has now become lighter
Pakistan's decision of playing a Test with only four specialist bowlers for the second time running has mystified one and all. Playing two fast bowlers in the heat and batsmen-friendly conditions generally signals the introduction of a spinner fairly early. However, as Kaneria was handed the ball in only the eighth over of the innings, a few eyebrows were raised. As Mohammad Asif walked off the field, and the news of his elbow injury circulated, Pakistan's light attack had become even lighter. With only one fast bowler remaining, plus a deficit of 305 already, Shoaib Malik may not sleep that well tonight.