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November 18, 2000

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Zimbabwe rally after early setbacks

Ashish Magotra

It was a day that promised much but delivered little. At many points it seemed as if India would run through the Zimbabwe batting line-up, but each time the visitors came back stronger than before.

At stumps, on day one of the first Test between the two countries, at the Ferozshah Kotla, Zimbabwe were 232 for the loss of five wickets, with Andy Flower,on 55, and Heath Streak, on 25, at the crease.

India had a surprise in store regarding the composition of the team. Zaheer Khan was dropped and VVS Laxman came in. Ganguly had indicated on Friday that he would like to go into the match with five bowlers. However, he decided to adopt a different approach on Saturday.

Zimbabawe skipper Heath Streak won the toss and decided to bat. They lost their openers quickly due to good bowling by the two seamers, Javagal Srinath and Ajit Agarkar. Both the wickets were claimed by Srinath. The score at this stage was 15 for the loss of two wickets.

But the fielding continued to be in a miserable state, with regular misfields conspicuous throughout the morning session. Even a straightforward catch was dropped by Sadagoppan Ramesh in the slips, off the bowling of Agarkar.

The other bowlers could not replicate the initial success enjoyed by the Srinath and Agarkar, and by lunch time Zimbabwe had crawled to 62, a relatively safe position considering the fact that they were at one point 15 for the loss of 2 wickets.

Alistair Campbell and Stuart Carlisle had both had a good stay at the wicket in the earlier first class matches and their good form continued here. The pair continued in the same vein after lunch as the score advanced to 134 before Sachin Tendulkar turned his arm over to grab the third wicket, that of Stuart Carlisle, who palyed a very important innings to get Zimbabwe back into the match.

And, as it very often happens at the end of a long partnership with the departure of one batsman, the other follows suit. Alistair Campbell may be a batsman of class, but in the 46 Test matches he has played in, he has been unable to reach the magical three-figure mark. He was out to a slightly rising delivery off the bowling of the irrepressible Srinath, who seems to be getting back to the form of old. Campbell had scored 70 out of Zimbabawe's total of 153.

The next man in was Guy Whittal. He didn't last long, returning to the pavilion without adding anything to Zimbabwe's cause.

Whittal is an impressive bat. In the Tests played earlier this year he had maintained an average of over 68.00, which is surprising considering how low down the order he bats. Ganguly must have been hoping to grab his wicket rather quickly and his prayers were heard.

A point worth mentioning is the fact that the Indian bowling lacks variety, with two left arm orthodox bowlers and two right arm pace bowlers. This apparent lack of variety was exposed by Andy Flower and Heath Streak. Together they were engaged in an unfinished 77-run partnership to guide Zimbabawe to stumps in a healthy position, something they wouldn't have expected after the first hour of play.

With each of India's top five batsmen averaging above 45.00 it is really hard to understand why they didn't go into the game with five bowlers as Ganguly had originally indicated. That surely would have brought more variety into the attack and put India in a better position that what it eventually ended up in.

Sunday brings with it the hope India will grab quick wickets in the morning and then go on to consolidate the early advantage.


Zimbabwe (1st innings):
G. Flower b Srinath 0
G. Rennie c Dahiya b Srinath 13
S. Carlisle c Joshi b Tendulkar 58
A. Campbell c Laxman b Srinath 70
A. Flower not out 55
G. Whittall c Dravid b Joshi 0
H. Streak not out 25
Extras: (b2, lb6, nb2, w1) 11
Total (for five wickets) 232
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-15, 3-135, 4-154, 5-155
Bowling: Srinath 16-6-39-3, Agarkar 20-9-46-0, Ganguly 3-0-19-0, Joshi 24-7-58-1, Tendulkar 12-3-34-1, Kartik 15-4-28-0
Overs: 90

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