One more roll
His skill as a batsman across formats has fast-tracked Kane Williamson's grooming as captain. But the New Zealand selectors might take note that their young prodigy and tosses just don't get along. He has won only two of them in 10 tries and flashed a wry grin after losing the latest one in Sharjah. Shahid Afridi, the stand-in Pakistan captain, too wore an embarrassed smile as he shared a couple of words punctuated by Williamson rotating an outstretched right palm. "Oh, come on, Shahid. One more roll," he might have said. Wonder if his mind went back to the coin as Pakistan went on to make their third-highest ODI total.
The hated hat-trick
It was only six overs, but Mitchell McClenaghan had bagged two hat-tricks. Of fours. The first sequence began with a poor, wide full toss that Ahmed Shehzad directed through point. The next two attempted bouncers were pulled either side of square leg. Mohammad Hafeez must have been miffed standing at the other end, and cheered himself up with a sublime whip through midwicket off McClenaghan's next over, enjoyed some fortune with a top-edge over the keeper and drummed the next ball to the long-on boundary.
Umar Akmal was playing his 100th ODI, he was also stepping up for the injured Misbah-ul-Haq, and he was walking in with a situation that was tailor-made for him. Pakistan were 300 for 5 with almost five overs left in the bank. He slid his first ball to point with soft hands and set off, eager to give the ballistic Afridi the strike. Only his captain did not like the look of the fielder swooping down on the ball. A shocked Akmal stopped in his tracks and almost accepted his fate as Martin Guptill loaded up for a throw. A direct hit would have had him, but Guptil did not want to take any risks. He began running to the stumps, which forced a desperate Akmal to scamper as well. An underamed throw hit the mark and the batsman had to walk back for a first-ball duck.
The wicketkeeper's warning
New Zealand's bowlers were being run ragged. Their over-rate was stuck in the 12 per hour mark. But through it all, Luke Ronchi was alert enough to stop an unnecessary no-ball. Akmal had just been run-out and Williamson had forgotten to pull a fifth man inside the circle for the new batsman Sarfraz Ahmed. Corey Anderson was almost set to deliver when the wicketkeeper abandoned his crouch and stretched out his hands to ask the bowler to stop. The same gaffe happened in the 48th over, but this time no one could prevent it.
The old-war horse
Younis Khan is auditioning for a spot for the World Cup at 37. He needed to show briskness with the bat, but his pushes and nudges weren't hitting the gap and he was caught at long-on when he yielded to a slog. But his stocks rose on the field. Guptill thought he had it easy with a push to mid-off in the fifth over, but Younis sprinted to his right, slid for the ball and threw it while he was off balance. But rather like a snorter that beats a batsman, this too was too good to hit the target. He was not left to rue the effort too long though as he found a miscued swipe from Nathan McCullum heading in his direction during the 34th over. He ran hard, thrust both hands up after a leap to his right at cover and held on to quite an acrobatic catch.