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Feature

Smith's borderline brilliance

Plays of the day from the third ODI between Pakistan and Australia

Steven Smith is congratulated by team-mates after taking a catch to dismiss Fawad Alam, Pakistan v Australia, 3rd ODI, Abu Dhabi, October 12, 2014

Playing by the rules: Steven Smith is mobbed after his brilliant catch  •  Getty Images

Borderline brilliance
A moment of brilliance from Steven Smith was on the margins of legality and left Fawad Alam fuming. Fawad went down on his knee to play a premeditated sweep off Xavier Doherty. Smith had spotted the batsman's intentions, and started moving from first slip towards the leg side before the batsman had made contact with the ball. The ball went off Fawad's top edge, and Smith took a comfortable catch around where leg slip would have stood. The umpires consulted each other briefly and decided to give Alam out. However, Alam did not have a reason to complain since as per the new ICC playing conditions, Smith's action was in response to batsman's movement, and therefore, fair.
The missed appeal
Pakistan had just lost their seventh and eighth wicket within four runs of each other and the remaining 24 runs were seeming like a mountain. Right then, they were about to slip further. Zulfiqar Babar was late to respond to Sohail Tanvir's call for a single and he was almost dead as Glenn Maxwell fired an accurate throw to the bowler from point. Faulkner, the bowler, collected it cleanly but missed the stumps as he tried to break them. He got it right in the second chance but shook his head in disappointment thinking he had missed his man. However, the replays showed Babar was still short. Seeing the replay on the big scree, Australia celebrated as they thought they had the wicket. The umpire, though, asked the batsman to stay since no one had appealed for it.
The substitutes
The Pakistan team management had surprised many by resting their usual captain Misbah-ul-Haq. It was the first time since February 2011 that Misbah had missed a game. However, it did not take long for him to appear. In the ninth over, Sohail Tanvir went off and Misbah jogged in as the substitute fielder. He stayed away from the infield and stood near the ropes, where Tanvir would have been stationed. He was later on hand to carry out drinks duties. Later, Umar Akmal was seen in the field too, filling in for Mohammad Irfan. In the second innings, another substitute fielder was in the limelight. Sean Abbott was in for a brief period during which he dropped Ahmed Shehzad at mid-on.
Irfan, the wall
Mohammad Irfan's 2.16m frame has distinct advantages. As a bowler, he can extract bounce from any pitch; as a fielder, it gives him a fire-engine like range as David Warner found out in the second ODI when his six-worthy hit was intercepted at the boundary. Bending down should be a handicap, theoretically. However, in his last over, Irfan dived low to his left in his follow-through to cut off James Faulkner's push down the ground, and swivelled quickly while on the floor to strike down the stumps at the non-striker's end and send back Mitchell Starc. That was one for the myth-busters.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo