Plays of the day July 4, 2009

Aamer's airplane, and Gul's disdain

Celebrating wickets, dropping catches, slipping in unnoticed and getting a hit on the boot, all part of the action from the first day
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Start as you mean to go on
What's common to Ravi Bopara and Malinda Warnapura? They are Mohammad Aamer's first wickets in two forms of international cricket, both in his first overs. The sun had just started beating the clouds, the crowds had not even settled down, when Aamer went into his celebration, part-Shoaib-part-Bravo, not as fiery as Shoaib not as smooth as Bravo, still arms spread like wings, and running towards slips. Going by early indication, Warnapura could be the first of many to come.

Bad old Akmal
His glovework in the World Twenty20 had surprised everybody, but Kamran Akmal today raised suspicion it might just have been one blip in an otherwise glorious career behind the stumps. Today a sitter dropped, and an odd unclean collection even without there being an edge, added another twist to the Akmal story just when his fans thought "c Akmal b anybody" might stop being one of the more unfortunate forms of dismissal. Mahela Jayawardene hadn't opened his account when dropped, and went on to score 30.

Size doesn't matter
Not with the advertising stripping on the ground, between the stumps and the sightscreen. If you are used to seeing those giant paintings, or rugs nowadays, come to Galle. The Mobitel logo is not even as broad as the pitch, perhaps just a shade over two sets of stumps. Surprise, surprise, you can still read the sponsors' name.

Son of the soil
During the first drinks break, from the terrace, a man could be seen walking towards the stadium. He wore a striped t-shirt, untorn jeans, slippers, and no shades, hats or earphones. The walking public didn't notice, the security guards didn't even acknowledge that one of the more exciting fast bowlers in international cricket was walking past them. Thus entered Lasith Malinga.

Malinga's next spotting, though, was when he was being mobbed by kids circling him, asking for autographs. Not an official in sight. Malinga signed every paper, not looking in any hurry, not showing for a moment that he didn't want to be there.

Fast bowlers get frustrated…
… and show it too. Tharanga Paranavitana irritated Pakistan fast bowlers today. He kept getting lives, and he kept creaming boundaries. Not until Umar Gul let one go at him after having fielded it in the follow-through. Hit on the boot, the batsman let go off his bat immediately and looked in pain. But going by the true Pakistan-Sri Lanka cordial spirit, Gul was quick in going up to him, apologising to him, and patting him on the shoulder, and not leaving until Paranavitana had indicated it was all right.

The golden arm - and mind
Coming into this match, Younis Khan had taken two wickets in Test cricket. So it was a surprise when he brought himself on, with the pitch still doing something, in the 19th over. Even more surprising was that he gave himself a second spell. And with the second ball of his second spell, he got Thilan Samaraweera, with a delivery that landed on the seam and moved away. Hardly a surprise then that he came back for a fourth spell, when Nuwan Kulasekara and Rangana Herath had frustrated Pakistan to add 26 run for the ninth. And just as routine was another wicket, again in the first over of his new spell.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo