South Africa v India, 2nd ODI, Johannesburg January 15, 2011

How not to use a Powerplay

Plays of the Day from the second ODI between South Africa and India at Wanderers

The mosts
Sachin Tendulkar has reached a stage in his career where everything he does seems to break a record - his own, if not someone else's. As he walked out to bat today, he joined Sanath Jayasuriya as the most capped ODI player, with 444 matches. In terms of innings, he went one better than Jayasuriya; this was the 433rd time he was batting in ODIs.

Graeme Smith, though, is not that familiar with records, but as he went out for his 139th ODI toss, he broke Hansie Cronje's record of having captained South Africa in 138 matches.

The bouncer
The moment he saw Suresh Raina, Lonwabo Tsotsobe went on a bouncer spree. So excited was he that he nearly bounced himself with one, pitching it at his toes in a way that the ball almost hit him in the face during his follow-through. Smith, fielding at straighter extra cover, had the best seat in the house and fell down laughing.

The contest
Watching cricket in South Africa is a complete experience. People come with their portable chairs, iceboxes full of beer, and spend lovely time either on grass banks or in the stands. During the innings breaks, the kids either get to play cricket on the field or take parts in contests, as has been a ritual at Wanderers. It is a long-standing tradition, and they keep records: Faf du Plessis today broke the previous record held by Johan Botha, set at a time when he used to be an extra.

It involves running along the 30-yard circle, doing various tasks. First up is to lift and rearrange three sets of balls from one cone to the other. Then run along, collect a ball and bowl at the plastic stumps. Can't move to the next before hitting the stumps with a legal delivery. Then a machine throws up skiers. Catching one of them completes the next task. And finally one tennis ball has to be hit from the 30-yard circle into the crowd. One extra from each side, and kids from the crowd take part in the contest. India's R Ashwin took one minute and three seconds, one second better than the best among the kids. Botha's record was 56 seconds, which du Plessis smashed by three seconds.

The Powerplay, and how not to use it
After South Africa displayed the perfect use of the Powerplay in the first ODI, India showed the dark side of the moon today. When Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni were going well, India didn't ask for it, even though Yuvraj was starting to hit aerial shots. Three overs after Yuvraj's dismissal, India asked for one, and immediately lost Raina. A maiden over followed. Then another wicket. Then another. Four wickets fell for 14 runs during those five overs. South Africa did not fare much better, taking their Powerplay in the 32nd over, and hurtling from 145 for 4 to 165 for - a passage of play that ultimately cost them the game.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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