Plays of the day September 18, 2007

A series of shocks

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Shoaib Malik produced a wonderful knock to derail the Australian attack © AFP

Awesome Afridi
Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds were running away with it, scoring at nearly ten an over after eight, when Shahid Afridi, after going for 13 in his first, did the incredible, bowling a wicket maiden and having a chance missed. The first three balls were all outside off, and Ponting missed two cuts and a sweep. Next ball, Ponting charged madly, missed, and so did Kamran Akmal. A bye was taken, which turned out to be a bad move for Symonds, as next ball he charged, didn't connect, and was bowled. And when Mike Hussey played a dot ball next, Afridi achieved the rare feat of taking a wicket in an over without conceding a bat run.

A drought of sixes
Usually, an Australian hitting a six in a Twenty20 game would hardly merit mention, simply because you'd expect so many in an innings. Michael Hussey's straight hit off Afridi which hit the sightscreen deserves to written about, if only because it was the only six of the innings. It was a superb hit, straight and clean, but you'd have expected many more of them from Australia.

On the ball, in the field
Pakistan's fielding has never been their strongest suit, but in this game there were two moments of sheer inspiration. Only one produced a wicket, but both were worthy of celebration. First, Imran Nazir scored in from midwicket as Brad Hodge and Hussey attempted a risky second run. Pakistan rejoiced as if they had nailed a wicket, and even though replays showed otherwise, the celebrations were justified just for the quality of the throw. Afridi then went one better, knocking down the stumps from point to send Michael Clarke on his way for a duck. Inspirational, and very unlike the usual Pakistan outfit.

The battle of the metronomes
Mohammad Asif and Stuart Clark have both, at various times in their careers, been touted as the new McGrath. This game pitted them against one another, and there was no question about who won the battle: with clever change of pace and control, Clark winkled out three batsmen and gave very little away; Asif, on the other hand, was subdued and largely listless and went at 8.50 runs per over.

Captain, my captain
With Pakistan falling slightly behind the eight-ball, Shoaib Malik decided that the way to go was to lead from the front. In the 12th over, from Clarke, Malik stepped it up, clouting two fours over the bowlers head and a stunning inside-out blow over extra-cover. The captain had made his move, and Pakistan were on their way.

Deft touches, meaty blows
The captain made the first move, but his partner stepped it up to an even higher plane. Misbah-ul-Haq virtually decided the game in Pakistan's favour in the 15th over. A reverse-sweep, a cut and a pull off Andrew Symonds all beat the fielders and found the boundary. Add a couple of twos, and it enough to plummet the asking rate from eight to 6.20. From there the winner was never in doubt.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo