Pakistan v South Africa, 1st ODI, Lahore October 18, 2007

de Villiers defies cramps



AB de Villiers didn't let cramps hamper his shot-making © AFP
Heads up
The one thing you don't want to do on debut is look silly straight up. Sohail Tanvir has an odd enough action for people to notice and two wides in an otherwise decent first over in ODIs was just about passable. But getting hit on the head by a ball thrown by your team-mate was as necessary as a hole in the head. That is precisely what happened after the fourth ball of the over. The ball came back from third man to Kamran Akmal, who threw it to the bowler's end without looking. Bang! It thudded straight on Tanvir's head, while he was walking back to his mark. The most accurate piece of work from Akmal in recent memory, suggested one punter.

Howzat? And that?
AB de Villiers' third ODI hundred was a dashing piece of work, yet it was not without fortune. On 55, he tried to pull Mohammad Hafeez, missed, and survived, correctly, a vociferous leg-before appeal. What escaped the notice of many, however, was that the ball, after hitting his pads, gently rolled back onto the stumps. So gently, however, that neither bail fell off. What are the odds on being nearly dismissed twice off the same delivery?

If at first you succeed, don't try again
Imran Nazir will never die wondering. The first ball he faced, he punched off the back foot through covers. Makhaya Ntini was greeted with a carbon copy in the next over, prompting Graeme Smith to plug the gap and put Justin Kemp at short cover. In Ntini's next over, Nazir couldn't resist a full ball and drove it hard. It came off the middle but went straight to Kemp who did not need to move a millimeter to take a sharp catch. One man's good captaincy is another's failure to learn.

Shot! Ouch! Shot! Ouch!
Modern-day cricketers are fitter than ever we are told, yet how often do we see a batsman cramping up during a long innings and falling soon after? AB de Villiers had already run himself ragged by the time Tanvir began the 47th over and when he lofted the second ball high over long-off, something had to give. As soon as he hit it, he bent over in agony. A little massage later, he got up and slashed a boundary next ball. He caught breath over a dot ball and then launched another six over midwicket, and went down again. And still he got up to get down on one knee and scythe another boundary the next ball. He bent over again, though ultimately he defied fashion to remain unbeaten till the very end.

Contender for the opening slot
Tanvir could be forgiven for conceding 52 runs off his nine overs due to the brutal assault that de Villiers unleashed towards the end. However, with two first-class centuries against his name and a heads-up from those who know him well, he came out shining when Pakistan needed him to. An edge for a four and a slog-sweep over midwicket for maximum were vital runs, but he saved his best to mock Pakistan's nemesis, Jacques Kallis. Full and on leg-stump, a swift turn of the bat and the quick delivery was neatly flicked over square leg for another six. Reminiscence of Saeed Anwar and a flick that Adam Gilchrist would have been proud of.

Out of sight
As Shahid Afridi took guard in the 36th over, he knew the job at hand pretty well: 143 runs in just under 15 overs. In action from the second ball, he deposited a short Kallis delivery over square leg for a six. The next six took another five deliveries but when it came, off another short delivery from Makhaya Ntini, it was sent a massive distance into the sky. The ball went higher than the floodlights, disappeared into the darkness and was eventually found lying behind the midwicket boundary. If this was Wembley, the lit-up arch would have surely felt the impact.

Osman Samiuddin is the Pakistan editor of Cricinfo. Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo