Plays of the Day April 10, 2007

One-legged exploits and a likely heir apparent

AB de Villiers's extraordinary onslaught put the "ham" back into hamstring, as he limped and grimaced to a dramatic and bountiful 146. © Getty Images

Innings of the Day
AB de Villiers's extraordinary onslaught put the "ham" back into hamstring, as he limped and grimaced to a dramatic and bountiful 146. In the course of his knock, he smacked sixes of such self-damaging proportions that a rub-down from the physio became incorporated into his followthrough. It brought to mind the greatest one-legged exploits of Gordon Greenidge, tinged with the finest traditions of the Polokwane Amateur Dramatics Society. But it wasn't half impressive.

Oversight of the Day
It could have been construed as a tactical masterstroke. With Jacques Kallis gone and AB de Villiers fretting over his maiden ODI century, Brian Lara had a golden opportunity in the 37 th over to take the third and final Powerplay, something he had postponed (or rather, forgotten) when the two started teeing off in the first 15. Instead he faffed and dallied some more, and then tried to disguise it all as a cunning plan by calling for it at the end of the 44 th over, instead of letting nature take its course at the end of the 45th. Eight sixes and 77 runs later, South Africa had a brutally large total to defend, and West Indies were one step closer to elimination.

Shot of the Day
There were a few contenders for this crown, not least de Villiers' all-fall-down mow over the covers, when the ball and his backside tied in their race to thud into the turf. But there's nothing quite so satisfying to a batsman than the sound of tinkling glass, especially for that merriest of hellraisers, Herschelle Gibbs. His obscenely violent swipe off Daren Powell was still on its upward trajectory when it thudded into the third-floor windows above the players' dressing-rooms and (somehow) rebounded back to earth in a shiny shower of shards. Smashing effort that.

Catch of the Day
In any ordinary circumstances, Gibbs' cool-as-you-like one-handed interception at midwicket would take the biscuit, with an added mark for his understated celebrations. But seeing as he had seemed to be at death's door only an hour earlier, the award has to go to de Villiers, who defied his cramping leg muscles to spring forward at point and get his fingers under Devon Smith's back-foot steer. Whatever it was that went into his lunchtime intravenous drip, the lethargic West Indian fielders could have done with some of the same. Unless it was rum, of course. If the rumours are to be believed, they've got sufficient in their systems already.

Debut of the Day
It may be harsh to single out the new boy for criticism, but the 19-year-old debutant, Keiron Pollard, didn't quite add up to the injection of fresh blood that this stale side so needs. His three unthreatening overs of medium pace were milked for 20 runs, his fielding was reminiscent of Curtly Ambrose as he half-stooped and failed to conquer on the fine-leg boundary, while his batting lacked the breathtaking menace he had displayed in the Stanford 2020, the tournament in which he caught the selectors' eyes. A few stiff-limbed nurdles and an awful swish across the line were the sum of his contribution. No doubt he'll have better days, but like Lendl Simmons in Antigua, he was the wrong man for such a crunch occasion.

Rearguard of the Day
Utterly overshadowed by circumstance, Ramnaresh Sarwan played a blinder of an innings; pacy yet watchful, cool but full of passion. Had anyone other than the dutiful Ian Bradshaw managed to stay with him for any length of time, West Indies might have had a snowball's chance of achieving the impossible. Instead he fought a lone hand and succumbed to a slog in the 39 th over when the required rate was already more than 12 an over. If nothing else, it was a fine audition for when the captaincy (surely) comes up for grabs next month.

Personal Best of the Day
In a single innings of 48 not out, Daren Powell exactly doubled the number of runs (24) he had made in his previous 22 games and four-and-a-half years of ODI cricket. And any one of his three meaty slaps over cow corner would have equalled his previous highest score of 6. It was all utterly futile of course, though other teams in the competition, most notably England, may yet be grateful for the dent he left in South Africa's net run-rate.

Atmospherics of the Day
Or, quite conceivably, of the tournament. The crowd wasn't quite full - there were some notable gaps in the upper echelons of the grandstand, in particular - but down in the cheap seats the locals were loving it. The tournament's newly "explained" guidelines for bringing in flags, musical instruments, banners and other assorted contraband meant that the party stand in particular was a riot of noise and colour, and not even a lamentable West Indian performance could entirely dull their day. After a month of hostilities there's at last been a victory for common sense. Let's hope the goodwill is infectious.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo