The captain who wasn't
I'm bringing Polly back
Although Shaun Pollock was dropped in favour of younger bowlers in the Tests, he remains integral to South Africa's attack when it comes to ODIs. Two nights back, in a high-scoring game, he finished with figures of 10-2-30-0. And it was back to business as usual today: he might have been lucky with the bounce for Kamran Akmal's wicket but it pitched in a faultless area. He finished with 10-1-29-1 and little wonder he feels happier in this format.
Are you really a fast bowler?
Fast bowlers rarely make good fielders, hidden away at fine leg or third man. The likes of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and James Anderson are changing that notion, and on the basis of his catch today, the unlikely name of Charl Langeveldt could be added to that list, if only temporarily. With a figure not as lithe and lean as the aforementioned, Langeveldt raced after a skier from Shahid Afridi from short fine-leg. He approached the deep square-leg boundary where, over his shoulder, he latched on while also falling over. Catch of the day, hands down.
The captain who wasn't ... but was
Younis Khan never satisfactorily explained why he turned down the Pakistan captaincy but when Shoaib Malik went off the field after the 10th over of the innings, Pakistan had a dilemma on their hands. Salman Butt is the official vice-captain provided he's in the playing XI. Mohammad Yousuf was an option, as was Afridi. Pakistan eventually turned to Younis, so often the stand-in during the Inzamam-ul-Haq days. Such was the immediate burst of enthusiasm and energy from Younis into the side, and so much did he seem to enjoy it, you wondered why he turned it down in the first place?
Pakistan surely isn't the worst fielding side in the world. However, judging by tonight's display, they should not have many contenders to the throne. While the ground fielding left much to be desired as the home side relaxed following the early breakthroughs, Gul, who was mysteriously placed in the covers, let a Smith aerial drive through his palms. Next over, an AB de Villiers mistimed flick and an Abdur Rehman mistimed dive made that two dropped chances. Afridi, normally one of the safest in the side, grassed a caught-and-bowled off Smith before Misbah-ul-Haq's dive to his weaker hand not only resulted in yet another dropped catch, but four additional runs for the South African captain. And there was still time for Misbah to misjudge an Albie Morkel skier at square leg. With five dropped catches, a few going through the legs and a couple of run-out chances being missed, it was surprising to see Shoaib Malik take the winner's cheque. And if you thought that was that for Smith's luck ...
A start to remember
As Gul ran in to open the bowling for Pakistan, much rested on his shoulders to provide the early breakthrough. Gul duly obliged. As his swinging delivery crashed into the stumps off the inside edge of Smith's bat, Pakistan thought they had the perfect start. Only for Asad Rauf, the umpire, to extend his left arm and signal a no-ball. As the free hit was delayed due to movement by the sight screen, Smith crouched and pondered. A single taken and Herschelle Gibbs, centurion in the last match, had his first ball miss the bat and crash into his pads after yet more sight-screen delays. Gul, dejected after the reprieve he offered Smith, was clearly ecstatic to see the back of Gibbs.