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Timber falling

Plays of the day

Amit Varma and Rahul Bhatia in Delhi
It should have been a regulation quick single, but it probably marked the end of a series. Rahul Dravid patted Abdul Razzaq to mid-on and ran, and Yousuf Youhana ran in, picked up and, in one easy motion, threw. The stumps went down, and the umpire called for the third umpire to make a decision. But before the replay could come on, Dravid was on his way back, head bowed.
Pakistan had, time and again, got their direct hits right in this series. It was a tribute to the work Bob Woolmer had put in, and the benefit of having a professional foreign coach was showing on the side. India, meanwhile, were playing their last game under John Wright. (AV)
Getting Razzaq out of the way
Younis Khan had fallen. Two balls into the 48th over, Abdul Razzaq took guard. Pakistan had 282 on board with five men down on a rather flat pitch. A score of 300 had appeared likely, but now with Razzaq, that could surge even further. And so Nehra glided in, having been pummelled by Shahid Afridi earlier, and now face-to-face with perhaps the next most explosive article in the team. The first ball asked for it. It was low, outside off stump and a full toss. Razzaq smacked it with the finesse of a slugger towards long on; it was a stroke that resounded visually but was actually a miscue. A figure charged towards the inner circle from long on. It was Virender Sehwag, who ran and ran and ran and dipped full-stretch with the ball a few meters away from the inner circle and clasped it. Razzaq remained stationary before urging himself to move. Who came in next didn't matter. Razzaq was out of the way. (RB)
A brutal deja vu
"[Shahid] Afridi was the difference between the two sides in Kanpur," Rahul Dravid had said before this game. "We need to get him out early." Well, shortly after Pervez Musharraf and Manmohan Singh shook hands with all the players, the offensive began.
Ashish Nehra to Afridi. Just outside off, swing and miss. Hmmm, Nehra must have thought, maybe that's the wrong line. Second ball, down leg, glanced for four. Third ball, on his hips, tucked away for four. Fourth ball, down leg again, glanced for four again. Fifth ball, short ball on middle stump, a high pull that looped up as if being sucked in by a cloud, and then fell on the fence for six. Hmm, Nehra must have thought, let me try something else. Last ball, outside off, slashed for four through point. Twenty-two off the over.
Nehra walked away, looking down at the ground. All this had happened before. Familiarity, in the case of Afridi, does not breed contempt; it breeds fear. (AV)
Amit Varma is contributing editor of Cricinfo. He writes the independent blogs, India Uncut and The Middle Stage.
Rahul Bhatia is on the staff of Cricinfo.