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Ganguly leads India to victory

India quashed a late onslaught from Zimbabwe to scamper home with a 24-run run victory in a thrilling league encounter at the Gabba.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2004 22:28 IST

India quashed a late onslaught from Zimbabwe to scamper home with a 24-run run victory in a thrilling league match of the triangular one-day cricket series at the Gabba on Tuesday.

After posting 255 for six, built around the efforts of Rahul Dravid (84) and Yuvraj Singh (69), India were cruising along comfortably till the 37th over when Zimbabwe were almost out of the match at 148 for six.

But the tail-enders came up with yet another spirited performance to give India a scare before the side ran out of steam to finish at 231 for nine in 47.1 overs. Opener Mark Vermeulen had to retire hurt when he was hit on the face by an Irfan Pathan bouncer early in the innings.

All-rounder Sean Ervine (39) and Dion Ebrahim (39) plundered the inexperienced Indian bowling to add a quickfire 49 runs for the seventh wicket to kindle hopes of an upset win for the African team.

Ervine's dismissal at 197 in the 44th over failed to stem the run flow as Ebrahim and Raymond Price joined hands to set up the stage for a thrilling finish.

But India sealed the fate of the match in the 48th over to pocket five points to take their tally to 17, one behind table leader Australia. Zimbabwe also opened their account with a bonus point from the match.

Zimbabwe's decision to reshuffle the batting order, giving the opening slot to veteran Grant Flower, did yield some results initially as the side got off to a positive start.

Flower (36) and Vermeulen (14) played cautiously to come up with the most fruitful partnership for the team in the tournament so far -- adding 28 runs in seven overs.

Irfan Pathan then knocked Vermeulen down with a vicious bouncer which the player attempted to hook but missed. Though ball though got stuck in the grill of the helmet, it inflicted injuries on Vermeulen's face forcing the batsman to retire hurt. Vermeulen was later rushed to a hospital for x'ray, which revealed a fracture in the skull.

All rounder Travis Friend, who did not bowl a single over during India's batting, was the next man in and he checked his aggressive instincts to provide perfect foil to Flower, who by then was growing in confidence.

The two batsmen took the score to 66 before three quick dismissals saw the Zimbabweans in familiar territory.

Friend was run out at the non-striker's end by Ganguly while on seven and four runs later Flower ran out of patience to give a catch to V V S Laxman in the deep off Ashish Nehra.

Andy Blignaut (1), promoted up the order, square cut ferociously but straight into into Yuvraj Singh's hands at point.

Heath Streak (3) suffered a rare failure in the series when he missed a straight delivery from Sourav Ganguly to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 81 for 4.

At half-way stage, India were marching towards registering a big win with Zimbabwe down to five for 87 four and just the tail-enders to follow.

The score had moved to 106 for 4 in the 30th over when a couple of sharp showers interrupted the game for 40 minutes.

On resumption, Ganguly swelled his figures with two more wickets. Tatenda Taibu (15) was caught in the deep and Stuart Carlisle's (34) grim resistance had a comical end as the edge slipped out of Parthiv Patel's gloves but got stuck in the flap of his pads.

Zimbabwe were then brought into equation by Ervine and Ebrahim, batting at number eight and nine, but the ask was too big for them -- 108 runs off just 78 balls.

Earlier, man of the match Yuvraj Singh and Dravid rearranged a sorry-looking 72 for 3 with a fourth-wicket stand of 114 runs as India finished with a competitive total on the board.

India had lost new opener Patel (19), Ganguly (33) and Laxman (12) within the first 16 overs and made heavy weather against a far-from-menacing bowling.

Patel, brought in place of injured Sachin Tendulkar, was quickly into his stride before he was held back and duly lost his stumps in frustration to Heath Streak. He made his 19 from 29 balls with three fours.

Ganguly too was pegged back despite lashing four boundaries on the off-side before an attempted scoop failed to clear Douglas Hondo at short fine leg. The Indian captain's knock came from 43 balls with four fours.

Laxman (12 off 21 balls) chased a wide delivery and got a thick edge to wicketkeeper Taibu as Ervine made his presence felt.

Both Dravid and Yuvraj Singh steadied the ship by playing cautiously and were quite content with only the singles in the initial phase.

Yuvraj, who was the first to get the half century which came off 52 balls, then began to accelerate the pace of scoring.

He flicked Streak to fine leg fence and then cut Andy Blignaut for a similar treatment before the last ball of left-arm spinner Raymond Price's tenth over clipped his off-ball.

The left-handed batsman smashed 69 runs from 76 balls with four fours, this being his 13th one-day fifty in his 83rd match.

Dravid played watchfully before opening up in the slog overs in the company of Rohan Gavaskar, who came up with a fine performance.

Gavaskar, playing his second match, hardly wasted any delivery and made run-a-ball 22 which included a six over long-off.

Both Dravid and Gavaskar were dismissed at the same score in the final two overs. Gavaskar was bowled by Streak and then Dravid holing it out into the covers to the Zimbabwe captain off Ervine.

Dravid made his first 50 from 80 balls but then accelerated to finish with 84 from 106 balls with three fours. He put on 61 runs for the fifth wicket with Gavaskar off just 48 balls.

Ervine finished with thre for 47 and Streak two for 48.

Though Yuvraj bagged the man of the match award, Ganguly played a huge role in the Indian win with a score of 33 and three wickets for 55 with his medium-pacers, to go with two catches and two run outs he effected.

This was India's third successive win and for Zimbabwe it was their fourth loss in a row.

Earlier, the players observed a minute's silence just before the start of the match in memory of former Australian Test player and Victoria coach David Hookes, who died yesterday after an assault outside a Melbourne pub.

Players from both the sides and the two umpires -- Rudi Koertzen of South Africa and Steve Davis of Australia -- also wore black armbands to mourn the death.

Scorecard

First Published: Jan 20, 2004 09:09 IST