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Powar grabs the chance with glee

The Mumbaikar ended as the most successful Indian bowler at Faridabad on Friday.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 04:49 IST

Southpaw Suresh Raina was the stand-out performance in India's successful chase in the second one-dayer against England in Faridabad on Friday. However, Mumbai allrounder Ramesh Powar stole the morning session with his artistic off-spin bowling that helped India restrict the visitors to 226.

On a wicket tailor-made for spin bowling, Powar, making his fifth international appearance, returned with his best figures of three for 34 off 10 overs. After looking at the wicket, the Indian think-tank decided to go in with two specialist off-spinners in the playing XI and the gamble paid off as Powar and Harbhajan Singh broke the backbone of England's batting.

After Irfan Pathan and S Sreesanth failed to trouble the England openers, skipper Rahul Dravid threw the ball to the former at the end of the 12th over.  And Powar, playing his first international on home soil, missed an opportunity to take his second international scalp when he grassed a return catch by Andrew Strauss on the third ball of his spell. "I was a bit nervous as it was my first match in India," Powar said. "And I missed the chance for I was over-excited to think of getting a wicket in the first over."

However, Powar showed his character by getting in-form Owais Shah for a duck in his third over, nine deliveries after Harbhajan had struck the opening blow. It was a classical off-spinner's dismissal as the batsman misread the flight and the ball looped after a thin inside edge on to the pad to give Mahendra Singh Dhoni his first dismissal behind the stumps.

In today's age where spinners focus on bowling flat and restricting flow of runs, especially in the shorter version of the game, it was heartening to see Powar consistently tossing the ball. "This (flighted bowling) is my strength," said Powar. "I can bowl quicker, but I know getting wickets will become difficult if I start bowling quicker."

And he reaped rewards for his forte. Not only he made things difficult for set batsmen Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen, who were threatening to take the match away from India, he struck two crucial blows in his second spell. He first bowled Strauss after a well-made 61 as the left-hander was fooled by a floater as he came down the wicket in an attempt to hoick Powar over mid-wicket.

And then Powar got the prize scalp of the danger man Andrew Flintoff. After being tied down for a while, Flintoff completely misjudged the flight in a tentative charge, failed to connect the ball and was almost three feet short of the crease when Dhoni knocked the bails off. It was Flintoff's first single-digit score in his eight innings on the tour.

Though Powar ended as the most successful Indian bowler, the Andheri resident wasn't overawed by it. "It was good to get an opportunity," he summed it up. "And a better feeling that I could make optimum use of it."