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July 12, 2009
Replacement of the day
This series has been one for late arrangements. Sri Lanka lost Muttiah Muralitharan and Prasanna Jayawardene before the series, and got Rangana Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan to do those jobs for them. Pakistan, carrying only two specialist openers, had to do away with one of them after the abysmal showing in Galle. Fawad Alam was merely lamb to the slaughter today, opening for the first time in first-class cricket, while making his Test debut. The technique was inadequate, as he was trapped on his huge shuffle.
Shoaib Akhtar breathes easy
In another embarrassing Pakistan innings, Abdur Rauf faced the third-highest number of balls. Faced is not the right word, he played and missed at most of them, and hence didn't score any runs. Delightfully he moved towards breaking the record for the longest duck by a Pakistani. It was too good to last, though, as he fell lbw to the 34th ball he faced, which meant Shoaib Akhtar's 42-ball duck, against the same opposition, in Karachi, stayed safe. This was the 12th-longest duck overall, the undisputed leader being Geoff Allott's 77-ball effort against South Africa in Auckland in 1998-99.
Pakistan are here to burn the record book and start everything anew. In Galle they broke the record for their lowest total against Sri Lanka by managing 117. Not satisfied, they went one step ahead today by scoring just 90. Next is what? First series loss in Sri Lanka ahoy.
If once you get it wrong…
… your mate will make the correction. Simon Taufel, on the button for the rest of the innings, missed a bat-pad from Mohammad Aamer and denied Herath a wicket. In the next over, though, Daryl Harper obliged Ajantha Mendis with an lbw against the same batsman, while the ball had pitched outside leg. Aamer hadn't added to his tally, and all was fine.
Original message of the day
A placard that says "Today's special: Mohammad You-soop"
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper