South Africa v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Paarl January 11, 2012

Morne wins over the fans

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the first ODI between South Africa and Sri Lanka, in Paarl

Cheer of the day
Morne Morkel has had a tough time convincing local fans that he is deserving of his place in the starting XI this summer, but his display today would have done wonders for his popularity. After he had taken his third wicket, in just his third over, he returned to his position at fine leg to a rapturous applause from the crowd on the grass banks. They called out to him, clapped and cheered, and a blushing Morkel was forced to respond somehow. He thanked them bashfully with a small wave of the hand but under his cap was a massive smile, a sign that he knew he had turned a corner.

Harmison impersonator of the day
Dilhara Fernando has a reputation for starting his spells with a no-ball. In Paarl, he decided to change it up. After doing arm-waving warm-ups for six overs, he came into the attack and sent his first delivery way down the leg side, and it ran away for five wides. There was a collective groan around the stadium, and the ball drew memories of Steve Harmison starting the 2006-07 Ashes in the same fashion. Things didn't get much better for England in that series, neither did they this time for Fernando. He finished wicketless and conceded 65 runs off his nine overs.

Welcome of the day
Hashim Amla made a scratchy start and only announced his intent after he'd been allowed to settle down. Ajantha Mendis, still regarded as a mystery bowler by some, was introduced into the attack after 16 overs but Amla did not find anything puzzling about his first delivery. A tossed up straight ball was met with the meat of Amla's bat, as he took an open stance and played an inside-out smash over the covers for four.

Throwback of the day
Albie Morkel was moved up to No. 5 in the line-up when the third wicket fell with less than ten overs to go in the innings and South Africa in a commanding position at 244 for 3. Earlier this week, Morkel was not even in the South Africa squad; now, he was given the responsibility of scoring quick runs at the end of the innings. After 10 balls, he pulled out one of his trademark sixes. A short ball was slapped over square leg. If there was one shot he was moved up the order for, it was that one.

Dismissal of the day
South Africa struck a barely believable six early blows but the most sublime of them was Lonwabo Tsotsobe's dismissal of Dinesh Chandimal. He moved the ball in off the seam to beat Chandimal's drive and peg back middle stump, leaving Chandimal looking like a man with a glorious platter in his hand minus the cake. His elbows were high, his positioning good but his feet had not moved at all.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments