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Test Match Report

Match Report

India win series by four games to one (4:1)
India vs. Zimbabwe, 5th ODI, 14th December 2000  

Rajkot, December 14th: India won the series by four games to one as they beat Zimbabwe in the 5th and last ODI by 39 runs at the RMCCG ground in Rajkot. Agarkar who added three wickets to his kitty and made a ruthless 67 off 25 balls was the undisputed Man of the Match.

In reply to India’s massive score of 301, the Zimbabweans made a spirited response to their target. At the end of 25 overs Zimbabweans had lost 3 wickets on 146. Although the run rate had fallen after Andy Flower's departure, Madondo and Grant Flower added 49 runs in 11.3 overs.

Madondo made 71 in 70 balls. Grant Flower was trapped leg before by Shewag. Zimbabwe was 156/5 at the end of the 28th over. Guy Whittall came in next and disappointed again, holing out to deep midwicket off Shewag for 10 and the asking rate went out of control as each new batsman strove to get his eye in. Marillier had a decent innings as he made 42 odd 38 balls. After that no player could rescue the innings as Zimbabwe were all out for 262.

Lower order does the job
Agarkar, Sodhi and Badani take total control
India vs. Zimbabwe, 5th ODI, 14th December 2000

With Sourav Ganguly suspended for the 5th ODI match, Sridharan Sriram got an opportunity to open the innings. However, he blew it as he slashed at a Heath Streak delivery to be caught behind for 2. Rahul Dravid was the next to go as he played a foolish ondrive off Bryan Strang. India were 24/2 at that point. Much was expected from Dravid as he was leading the side for the day.

Sachin Tendulkar played a couple of cover drives but fell to Streak for 27. Yuvraj Singh started in blistering fashion with all eyes on him, producing a square drive and a more delicately played forcing shot off the backfoot for successive boundaries off his first two balls. He however, went out at 29 off 23 balls. Badani came in next and made a magnificent 77 in 99 balls.

Sodhi gave a great support to Badani when India was tottering at 114/5 at one stage with an important 102 run stand for the fifth wicket. Reetinder Singh Sodhi remained unbeaten on 53 off 69 balls, striking four fours and a six.

Badani fell in the 44th over and then came Agarkar who surprised all the cricket lovers around the globe with his record of quickest 50 in 21 deliveries. He then proceeded to smash two consecutive sixes off the last two balls of the match. He was not on 67 off 25 balls. Agarkar’s blitz contained seven fours and four sixes.

It was the tail-enders, who revived the Indian spirits. Agarkar's ruthless attack following Hemang Badani and Reetinder Singh Sodhi's contribution powered India to 301. The last over yielded 21 runs for India as India went past the 300 mark. It was the lower order who took total control adding more than a 150 runs in the last 20 overs.

The Prince of Bengal gets into the act
India Vs Zimbabwe, 4th One-Day International

After the last defeat, the Indian team must have thought hard about the mistakes they made and decided not to repeat them. And they sure stuck to their plan by dismissing the Zimbabweans for 165 and then reaching the target easily, losing just one wicket in the process. Skipper Sourav Ganguly over shadowed the whole match in more ways than one. He started off by taking the wicket of the danger man Andy Flower and went on to take 5 wickets in the match. It was a great bowling performance by the captain, who has had problems with his back and had not been bowling much off late. He swung the ball late and troubled all the batsmen. No wonder he ended up taking 5 wickets.

But that was not it. His performance was stretched beyond a point, as he took the art of appealing to a totally different level. He was shouting, jumping, screaming, and showing his displeasure every time his appeals were turned down. Ganguly has been warned for excessive appealing before, as every time, he appeals, he charges down the stumps towards the umpire. What happened today was totally uncalled for and being the captain of the team, this was totally unjustified. Everybody knows, that temperatures are high in the middle but one must stick to the basics and not overdo everything. Nevertheless, his bowling was worth a praise as he and Agarkar took the game out of Zimbabwe’s reach. Agarkar bowled exceptionally well, getting the ball to reverse swing sharply. Except for Zimbabwean openers Campbell and Madondo, who made 32 a piece, none of the other batsmen could get going as wickets kept falling at regular intervals.

165 was not a score, which would scare the opposition and as expected the Indian openers got their team to a blazing start. Tendulkar was in top form after that century as he started playing his shots from the word go. He drove the ball very nicely and was severe on anything short. He was lucky at times, as he edged one or two, which did not go to the fielder but otherwise he played a good innings and made 62 before falling to friend. The ball kept low and Tendulkar was already into his shot. Ganguly matched Tendulkar shot by shot, as he reached yet another fifty. He hit Olonga for a huge six over covers. It was a great shot, one, which reinstates the talent, this man has. He has been in very good form and he continued that with an unbeaten 71. It was a great all round performance by him and helped his team take away the series from Zimbabwe.

With 2-1 up in the series, the last match now remains a mere formality and Zimbabwe should now be playing for the lost pride, if nothing else.


Flower brothers blossom as Nkala takes the air out of India
India Vs Zimbabwe, 3rd One-Day International

"Cricket is all about pressure and those, who are made of strong hearts always succeed". 

With a total of 283 on the board and three Zimbabwean wickets out for 52 runs, India would have thought that the match was in their pocket but a brilliant 149 runs partnership between the Flower brothers got the match to an exciting situation. Both of them ran brilliantly between the wickets and played some exquisite shots. Andy Flower has been totally in control all throughout this series and Indians have found it hard to beat his bat. He got out to a beauty from Tendulkar and with him, two more wickets fell. At that point they still needed 69 runs. Skipper Streak and Nakala then played some good shots and jolted the Indian bowlers, who at that point thought that the match was already over. One over from Zaheer Khan gave three boundaries and took the pressure off the batsmen. Streak fell to an injudicious shot and as it had been happening, the match again inched towards India's favor. It was a test of nerves for the batsmen and the one, which Nakala passed with flying colors. He hit Joshi for a six, which would put even the top order batsmen to shame. This young man showed that he was made of something special and got Zimbabwe at the victory doorsteps.

With 3 runs needed of the last over, Zimbabwe got two in two. But tragedy struck and they lost 2 wickets in two balls and worse, one was off Nakala. Olonga walked in as his team needed 1 run off 2 balls. He has had a disastrous tour of India and this was his best chance to redeem himself. And he did not miss out as he hit the ball over the fielders and won the match for his team.

Ganguly would be very disappointed with the result, especially after his batsmen put up such a big total. It was a matter of bowling the ball in the right spot, which the bowlers failed to do so. But nothing can be taken away from Tendulkar, who hit a cracking 144 runs in 153 balls and also completed his 27th century. He was in great touch, as he hit some lusty blows all over the park. His timing was exquisite and he showed the full face of the bat everytime, he dispatched the ball to the boundary. Even the late order chipped in as Zaheer took 27 runs off the last over of the innings, hitting 4 consecutive sixes. But the result has brought the series alive and with this performance, Zimbabwe would be a different team altogether.    

Brilliant batting, bad planning
India Vs Zimbabwe, 2nd One-Day International

The crowd of over 50, 000 at the Sardar Patel Stadium, in Ahmedabad was in for a treat, as the Indian skipper decided to give Zimbabwe bowlers some good hammering. Though India lost its star opener Tendulkar very soon but that had no effect on Ganguly, who was in a biliegerent mood. He started off slowly but gained momentum as the innings progressed. He along with Dravid ran well between the wickets and hit boundaries at every given occassion. After reaching his fifty, he started to cut loose and with the Zimbabwean spinners unable to get anything out of the wicket, he made them pay heavily. He hit 6 sixes and reached his 16th century in One day internationals. It was a classy knock from the left hander and the one, which the Zimbabwe team won't be able to forget soon. Side by side Dravid was going along slowly but steadily and played the sheet anchor role for his captain. After Ganguly departed, the Indian late order did not lose momentum and some lapses in the field by the opposition also helped them a bit. A target of 306 in 50 overs was always going to be tough to chase but not impossible. 

When any team is chasing such a huge total, the first thing they need to do is to think and plan out their innings. Going out and playing shots from the word go is not a very intelligent thought and certainly not the one, which yields great results. Zimbabwe opener Marillier promised a lot, when he came on to the scene but he has disappointed everybody during this tour. He looked totally at sea against Zaheer Khan and succumbed to Prasad for just 2. Carlisle, who has been in excellent touch was totally out of it, as he struggled to get his bat to the ball. He ate up 25 balls for just 1 run and his fall must have given a sigh of relief to his captain Streak. The man in form, Andy Flower was the only savior for his team if they were to get to this total. But he lost partners at regular intervals and gave away his wicket as well. Guy Whittall was aggressive from the word go but it did not work for long. Even though Streak made a half century in the end but the match was already lost. On the bowling front, the spinners did the job on a pitch, which behaved differently in the second innings. It jumped and spun and gave every oppurtunity to the bowlers to take wickets.

Zimbabwe lost the match due to two reasons. First was the brilliant innings by Ganguly. It was a sight to watch as he hit the spinners with so much ease and command. He gave the bowlers no respite as he mustered up 144 runs in just 152 balls. The second reason was some poor planning by the Zimbabwe team. Their idea to bowl spinners against Ganguly, when he was in full flight was not a very wise idea and they paid heavily for that. They dropped catches at crucial junctures. The way they approached their batting was ordinary and purpose less. None of the batsmen showed any inclination to stay on the wicket and make some runs. There was a need of a big innings from any of their main batsmen but it did not happen and the end result was an easy win for India.

India leads the series 2-0 and Zimababwe would have to rework their strategy in order to make a match of it. 

When youth makes a difference

India Vs Zimbabwe, 1st One-Day International

By Goutam Das

The influx of youth has done wonders for Indian cricket. Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan first collaborated to win some important matches for India. Then, it was the chance for Hemang Badani to show his class. And he did. Playing under immense pressure, he produced a match winning innings, while showing the seniors how a target is to be chased.

The cool left-hander’s day was not without hitches, though. He looked lazy, he misfielded, dropped a catch and was involved in two run outs. One got a feeling that perhaps the pressure of performing well was getting into him. One knows how tough it is to break into the top league and once you are there, it is even tougher to hold on to your position. With so many players in the fray, the selectors can chip and chop at will. One bad day can play havoc with your future. That Badani withstood all these and won the match for India, bodes well for him and the Indian cricket.

Poor planning is something, India needs to do away with. Whether at all they have a strategy for the opposition is something that is shrouded in mystery. Reflect at the batting order in today’s match. India opened with Tendulkar and Ganguly, followed by Dravid. Once the respected trio were back in the pavilion, all that was left in the Indian lineup were a handful of inexperienced youngsters – Yuvraj, Badani, Sodhi, Dahiya and Agarkar. Over dependence on youngsters can back fire. And no one knows this better than Sourav Ganguly.  Look at what happened in Nairobi. Chris Cairns blasted the half volleys of Zaheer Khan in the last over to snatch a New Zealand victory. It is always preferable to have a right mix of experience and young blood in any form of the game.

It was also amazing to see how quickly India can sink in to the quagmire of trouble. India began aggressively but lost their openers to some rash strokes. One LBW and two run outs were enough to nail them. Thank heavens. The Zimbabweans lost their hammer. With Dahiya and Agarkar coming good at the right time, the match was into India’s pocket.

Zimbabwe played well but needed more runs. The partnership of 115 runs between Carlisle and Campbell had led the foundation for an onslaught. In the process of trying to improvise too much, they dug their own pit. But the way they ran between the wickets, and took on the fielders within the ring was commendable.