Plays of the Day: Abu Dhabi, day one

Blog Opinion

A quick review of the day one action from Abu Dhabi, where Pakistan dominated the South African line-up but Hashim Amla provided admirable resistance.

<b>Shot of the Day:</b> Attacking the debutant spinner has become the norm throughout world cricket, and Zulfiqar Babar's introduction was no exception. <b>Hashim Amla</b> took to the rookie quickly, epitomised by an authoritative slice over the covers for four. More followed after lunch, particularly over extra cover, as Babar initially proved an incapable replacement in the wake of Abdur Rehman's injury.

<b>Delivery of the Day:</b> Removing Jacques Kallis is no mean feat, and the key was always going to be to strike early. <b>Junaid Khan</b> obliged, and handsomely so. The angle delivered, the line threatened, the bounce poised, the lateral movement kicked in and the edge ensued. A man soon to be Test cricket's second highest run-scorer was, indeed, flummoxed – and ultimately didn't live up to <a href='http://www.betfair.com/sport/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>promising cricket betting odds</b></a>.

<b>Hero of the Day:</b> Deliberation would have been frequent, but in the end <b>Mohammad Irfan</b> gained selection ahead of Rahat Ali, who was Pakistan's lone star during an otherwise weak tour of Zimbabwe recently. Irfan, though, repaid the faith. While his impact was not long-term, its immediate nature – the removal of Alviro Petersen and Graeme Smith – certainly damaged South Africa's presumption of plenty of early runs.

<b>Villain of the Day:</b> <b>AB de Villiers</b> worked hard for his 19 runs, only to fall prey to an uncharacteristic lapse in concentration. While there remained an element of doubt in third umpire Ian Gould's final choice, the decision should not have been required regardless. It'll be a long time before de Villiers is caught napping like that again. Meanwhile, kudos to Adnan Akmal for an opportunistic piece of wicketkeeping amid an otherwise average day behind the stumps.

<b>Promise of the Day:</b> Doom and gloom lined the build-up, with Paul Harris' 'like watching paint dry' simile complementing Kallis' memory of the 'flattest pitch ever'. Conditions at the <a href='http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan-v-south-africa-2013-14/content/ground/59396.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Sheikh Zayed Stadium</b></a>, however, proved quicker than in the past – and certainly made for an even contest between bat and ball aside from some lapses in concentration. Here's hoping this dynamic remains, and avoids flattening out.

<b>Tweet of the Day:</b> South Africa would have been down and out without Hashim Amla's 20th Test century, and former Proteas spinner <b>Pat Symcox</b> was thrilled with the effort, tweeting: "Ayoba Hash! number 20 and more to come! #goyougoodthing".

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