Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Pallekele July 15, 2015

Anwar Ali, the flying third man

Plays of the day from the second ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Pallekele

Sachith Pathirana, good with the flighting the ball, not so good when he's trying to settle under it for a catch © AFP

The impression
Five balls, 22 runs. That was Kusal Perera breaking Pakistan. The sequence played out across three overs from the fifth to the seventh, but every ball he faced was hurtling to the leg-side boundary. Mohammad Hafeez tried to keep the ball outside off, but he was bottom-hand swatted over midwicket and long-on. Anwar Ali was on off, but was whipped over square leg. Hafeez tried adjusting his length, but was muscled twice over cow corner again. Somewhere in that sequence, Kusal reached his fifty off 17 balls, equalling Sanath Jayasuriya's record, batting in exactly the same way as Sanath Jayasuriya.

The flying (third) man
Kusal was dimissed after 25 balls, but the game's quota of jaw-dropping moments wasn't quite done. In the 25th over, the new batsman Lahiru Thirimanne wanted to use Rahat Ali's pace and ramp him to third man. The connection was strong and the ball flew flat, but the fielder Anwar Ali was undeterred. He raced in briskly, then to arrest his momentum because he needed to dive forward and to his left. That he managed to do all that was because he had kept his eyes firmly on the ball. The basics still work.

The dunces
The Sri Lanka dressing room, by now, were stunned. Somewhere in there Sachith Pathirana and Nuwan Pradeep would have felt particularly woozy. Pathirana had earlier dropped two catches in four balls. Pradeep nearly fell over himself while trying to protect the boundary not once but twice. And then the coup de disgrace was in the 49th over. Rahat's top-edge soared into the evening sky, but didn't go too far away from the bowler's reach. Pradeep ran forwards, so wicketkeeper Chandimal hesitated. But Pradeep also seemed to bail out thinking it was better for the man with the gloves to take it. In the end, the indecision led to a collision and a simple chance was shelled.

The hoodwink
It is an age old custom by now. Wicketkeepers try to distract umpires in cases of wides down the leg side. That considered Sarfraz Ahmed's appeal for caught behind in the 30th over had such gusto that it might well have scared umpire Ranmore Martinesz into momentary paralysis. No signal for the wicket. Absolutely none for the wide. Dinesh Chandimal, the batsman, simply smiled. Hafeez, the bowler, went up to make a cursory check with Sarfraz about a possible DRS call, but Sarfraz was rather uninterested. No wide was given. His job was done.

The captain's growth
Hafeez was new to the crease. The bowler Pathirana, although a debutant, had good control. The kind that could cause a mistake and the Pallekele crowd knew it. They were thirsty for wickets, chanting "one more, one more." So for once, Angelo Mathews forgot his intransigent ways and embraced the funky. The Sri Lanka captain slotted himself at short mid-off and it took only a few balls for the gamble to pay off. Hafeez skipped down the track, got too close to the tossed up delivery, and popped a catch straight at Mathews.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments