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Plays of the Day from the fifth day of the third Test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Pallekele
Kanishkaa Balachandran in Pallekele
July 12, 2012
Celebration of the day
Adnan Akmal braved a fractured finger to come in at No.10 to support Asad Shafiq, as Pakistan looked to build their lead inch by inch. Shafiq did his best, at the start, to farm the strike to protect Akmal. Akmal played it safe, choosing to defend with soft hands or simply leave it to the keeper. Akmal had plodded along to 5 off 41 balls before he leaned forward to Nuwan Kulasekara and pierced the gap between the slips and gully to bring up his first boundary. It was not the manner of the boundary that stood out, but the child-like celebration that followed. He smiled and stretched his arms as if he were a No.11 bunny defying all expectations. Asad Shafiq might have been more emotive when he reached his century, but Akmal's reaction was unique.
Redemption of the day
It was ironic that on a fifth-day pitch, not a single wicket had fallen for over a session. The Sri Lanka openers had motored along to 27 at lunch, and they remained positive after the break. Tharanga Paranavitana, who didn't look comfortable around the off stump, then edged Junaid Khan, but Misbah-ul-Haq fluffed a sitter at first slip. With wickets hard to come by on a flat track, it must have been demoralising for Pakistan. However, the pain lingered for barely a minute as Paranavitana obliged with another edge off the very next delivery. This time, it was taken by Younis Khan at second slip. Misbah didn't redeem himself, but Pakistan did.
Audacious shot of the day
Akmal was seen gasping in pain even after regular defensive shots. However, the pain didn't stop him from getting innovative. Akmal's first boundary had given him enough confidence to try something new. Rangana Herath wasn't quite a threat on the fifth day pitch, so Akmal decided to reverse sweep for four, much to the surprise of everyone watching. He repeated the shot off the same bowler shortly after. Akmal had found a way to beat the pain.
Fumble of the day
Akmal's absence behind the stumps placed a lot of demands on stand-in keeper Taufeeq Umar. He would especially have felt the heat during the course of a mix-up between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Sangakkara had dropped the ball towards point and a communication breakdown followed. Jayawardene, who wasn't sure about the single, had no chance of making it to the other end. The throw was fired in on the bounce to Taufeeq, who fumbled and allowed Jayawardene a life. A peeved Jayawardene looked back at his good friend Sangakkara, and then the two laughed it off.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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