cricket channel: India fight back to beat Zimbabwe
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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 14, 2002
2300 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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India fight back to beat Zimbabwe

Faisal Shariff in Colombo

Andy Flower registered the highest score ever made at the Premadasa stadium, but it was not enough to prevent Zimbabwe from losing to India by 14 runs in their opening match of the ICC Champions Trophy on Saturday.

India owe their success to young Mohammad Kaif, who won the man of the match award for his sizzling 111, the highest score ever made by a number seven batsman in one-day cricket history.

Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak summed up Kaif's performance as one of the most composed innings he had seen in while.

"He took his singles, hit straight, kept the ball on the ground and fired at the right time to take the game away from us," said Streak.

India innings

Three months shy of turning 22, Kaif pulled out yet another masterly one-day innings from his batting reserves. Posting his maiden international hundred, he carried on from the unbeaten 87 that won India the NatWest Trophy in England two months ago and took India to 288 for 6, after their top five batsmen were dismissed inside the 15 overs for 87 on the board.

Kaif's undefeated 111 is the highest ever by a number seven batsman in the one-day version of the game. It is, in fact, only the second occasion that a number seven batsman has scored a hundred. The first was by Hashan Tilekeratne, of Sri Lanka, who scored 100 against the West Indies, in Sharjah in 1995.

India began their campaign in the tournament under yet another controversy, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India deciding that the team would take the field without their sponsor's logo.

ICC communications manager Mark Harrison, while distributing a media statement, said the ICC did not have a problem with the new 'Subrata' logo or its colours, but had only asked for the 'wings' in the logo to be clipped.

Sahara India, the official sponsors of the India team had nominated 'Subrata' to replace 'Sahara', after the ICC raised objections to the nomenclature, saying it was in conflict of interests with South African Airways, one of the official sponsors of the tournament.

On the field, India decided to bat first and had their top five batsmen back in the freshly-painted dressing room even before the fielding restrictions were off.

Skipper Sourav Ganguly edged the first ball of the innings from Douglas Hondo past second slip for four. But in his next over, Hondo struck a double-blow. Pitching one on leg and seaming away, he induced a think edge off Ganguly's bat to second slip fielder Alistair Campbell. Four balls later, Dinesh Mongia edged the bowler to the same fielder, at second slip, for a duck and India were 25 for 2.

Sachin Tendulkar walked out to bat with Virendra Sehwag, who seemed to be batting on another plane altogether. He slashed at anything wide, pulled audaciously the moment the ball was pitched short of length.

Tendulkar though seemed weary and watched his mini-version provide the pyrotechnics. After a scratchy 29-minute stay at the crease, he poked at a harmless delivery from Hondo -- which pitched wide outside off-stump and moved a shade away -- and gave Campbell his third catch of the innings.

A quick-fire 42-run partnership between Sehwag and Tendulkar -- with the latter's contribution seven runs -- saw India race away to 67 for 3 by the 10th over.

Sehwag's batting comes with a certain amount of freedom that is devoid of fear. Coach John Wright calls it the freedom of youth, but what it does is spooks the opposition even when they are on top. Despite the three Indian wickets, which included the prize catch Tendulkar, Zimbabwe had a defensive field in place to guard against a blitzkrieg from Sehwag.

Two short of his fifty, Sehwag attempted an ambitious drive off medium-pacer Sean Ervine, the ball failed to find the middle of the bat and flew off the edge to Andy Flower behind the wickets.

Sehwag's breezy 36-ball essay had India batting at a frenetic rate, punctuated only by the regular loss of wickets. (84-4)

Hondo, bowling unchanged, snapped up his fourth wicket, angling one across Yuvraj Singh and finding the edge yet again. The ball travelled at bootlace height to Ervine, at second slip, who plucked a stunning catch by diving to his right.

India at 87 for 5 looked towards Rahul Dravid to resuscitate the innings in the company of Mohammad Kaif - the NatWest final hero.

Dravid's experience, combined with Mohammad Kaif's infinite calm, saw the Indian innings revive. Building on from the initial thrust Sehwag had provided, the duo batted sensibly by picking the gaps and the singles. There was nothing extraordinary about the partnership that rolled on a staple diet of singles and the odd boundary to the fence. And despite that, the run-rate never fell below 4.5 throughout the partnership.

Between the 15th and the 25th over the duo scored 48 runs. Dravid notched his 40th one-day fifty off only 51 balls.

The Kaif-Dravid combine collected another 47 runs between over number 25 and 35, to take India to 193 for 5.

Kaif raced away to his half-century off 70 balls, with a single boundary, scoring the majority of his runs in singles.

A misjudgement in calling for a single saw Dravid get run-out after a 79-ball 71. Playing the ball straight to mid-wicket fielder Stuart Carlisle, he set off for a run and was beaten by a direct throw. (204-6)

The 117-run partnership between Kaif and Dravid had 66 singles, underlining the importance of taking the singles in the abridged version of the game.

Anil Kumble walked out to bat with Kaif, who had until then run 38 singles in his score of 54, with the score reading 210 for 6, with ten overs remaining.

Kumble survived an easy stumping chance, when Andy Flower failed to collect the ball off brother Grant's bowling. That, however, was not the last gaffe by Andy, who had a conspicuously bad outing while keeping wickets. He also failed to collect the ball while attempting to run-out Kaif, who would have been out by a mile.

The Zimbabwean fielding and bowling went kaput with Kaif unwinding and pulling Grant Flower for a six over the mid-wicket fence. Moving to his off-side, Kaif played a couple of flicks over the keeper's head for boundaries. He smashed his maiden international hundred off only 107 balls to a standing ovation from his teammates in the dressing room balcony.

India finished at 288 for 6, having piled 56 runs in the last five overs, as Kaif and Kumble raced away to a scorching 84-run partnership for the seventh wicket, at 6.7 runs an over.

Kaif remained unbeaten on 111, off 112 deliveries, with eight fours, a six, and, most importantly, 55 singles.

Zimbabwe innings

Zaheer Khan struck for India in the very first over, trapping Dion Ebrahim for nought. The decision was referred to third umpire Steve Bucknor, who confirmed that the ball had pitched in line with the leg-stump.

Former Zimbabwe skippers Andy Flower and Alistair Campbell then got together and negotiated a great spell of bowling from both the left-arm seamers, Zaheer and Ashish Nehra.

Andy received a reprieve after he was unable to control a hook shot off Zaheer. Nehra, stationed at deep fine leg, dropped a regulation catch and watched the ball pop out of his hands and cross the boundary line. On 15 at that time, that wicket would have, in all effect, terminated all hopes of a Zimbabwean victory.

Campbell, struggling through his 52-minute stay at the crease, was finally caught after driving uppishly at Zaheer as Yuvraj completed a head-high catch at point.

But Andy, batting on 28, lived a charmed life, as an edge flew off his bat inches short of first slip fielder Dinesh Mongia, who made a valiant attempt but failed to hold on to the ball.

The Flower brothers found themselves at the crease under circumstances not alien to them.

Ganguly introduced spin from both ends but that didn't seem to perturb the brothers, who handled the spinners quite well, milking them for singles and twos.

Andy brought up his fifty with his sixth boundary, driving Kumble through extra cover in the 18th over. Zimbabwe had reached 90 for 2 after 20 overs and were still 199 runs away from victory. Having had a measure of the wicket, Grant began middling the ball as the Flower brothers' partnership assumed threatening proportions.

With part-time bowler Yuvraj Singh proving expensive, Ganguly brought himself on and carried some luck as well. Grant, cutting the ball softly, called for the single and sent Andy back as Yuvraj brought off a brilliant save. A quick pick-up and return saw Dravid whip off the bails. A fuming Grant walked back to the pavilion for 33. The third wicket partnership between the Flower brothers was worth 84 quick runs off 100 balls. (127-3)

In the next over, the Zimbabwe innings plunged further into shambles. At 130 for 4, Stuart Carlisle, attempting to sweep Tendulkar, dragged the ball on to the stumps.

Guy Whittall joined Andy and played sensibly, rotating the strike and holding one end up while biding time for the final assault.

The passage of scoring for Zimbabwe, marked by Andy's play, was top-notch. Between the 15th and 25th overs they scored 43 and then upped the tempo in the next ten overs, scoring 54 runs for the loss of two wickets in the bargain.

Andy clipped Zaheer off his legs to the long-leg fence and registered his fourth one-day hundred, off 127 balls. His 161-minute stay at the crease until then had paved the way for an exciting finish to the game. In the course of his innings he had crossed the 6000 runs mark in one-dayers.

Ganguly's smart bowling changes got India the timely breakthrough after he brought Zaheer back into the attack in the 40th over. Whittal, after an enterprising 30-ball 29, took a wild swipe and Zaheer got a faint nick at the wicket. He walked back to the pavilion after a crucial 71-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Andy.

After 40 overs, Zimbabwe were 208 for 5, with an extra wicket in the bag and two runs short of what India had managed at that stage.

Douglas Marillier walked out to the middle and Ganguly immediately recalibrated the field. The ghosts of Faridabad, where Marillier played one of the most extraordinary one-day innings to pull off a win, were not forgotten despite the fact that he was sorted out soon enough in the remaining games of the series.

Ganguly pulled his fine leg and third man finer to plug the areas Marillier was most likely to flick the ball. After hanging around for 24 minutes and struggling to find the fence, Marillier flicked Kumble for his patent stroke and ballooned the ball to Ganguly, who had placed himself at short fine leg. Zimbabwe at 240 for 6 were still holding on, with Andy at the crease and another 49 required off 30 balls.

Tendulkar bowled a fantastic 46th over. Starting with three dot balls, he ended the over conceding only four runs. Harbhajan Singh followed it up, giving away three runs in the next over as the asking run-rate sky-rocketed.

Andy, who had batted with the lungs of a marathoner till then, finally ran out of breath and scooped a catch to Ganguly in the covers off the bowling of Tendulkar.

His 215-minute stay at the wicket was an exhibition of top-quality stroke-play blended with brilliant improvisation. He walked back with 145 runs against his name, which had 13 boundaries, as Zimbabwe's chase was halted with the score at 263 for 7 in the 49h over.

Sean Ervine and skipper Heath Streak failed to strike the much-needed blows as India wrapped up the match by 14 runs.

Zaheer Khan bowled Evine with the last ball of the over and claimed his fourth wicket. He finished with 4 for 45 off his 10 overs.

Highest totals by No. 7 batsmen

M Kaif111IndZim14/09/2002Colombo (RP)
HP Tillakaratne100SLWI16/10/1995Sharjah
SS Dighe94*IndWI7/07/2001Harare
M Kaif87*IndEng13/07/2002Lord's
Kapil Dev87IndWI8/12/1987Nagpur
JR Murray86WIEng26/05/1995The Oval
Wasim Akram86PakAus23/02/1990Melbourne



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