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India close to win as Zim lose ninth wicket

While Kumble has taken Taibu?s wicket, Dabengwa fell to Bhajji?s dosara. Live Scorecard

india Updated: Sep 16, 2005 15:05 IST

Skipper Taibu and Blignautwere giving a brave fight to the Indian pace attack in the morning session on Day 4 of the first Test. After Pathan and Zaheer failed to make any impact on the batsmen, Ganguly brought in spinners, Kumble and Harbhajan. The change of bowling brought results as Blignaut was packed by Bhajji for26.

However, Taibu has completed his half-century as Zimbabwe were struggling at 127/7.

Earlier, on Day 3, captain Sourav Ganguly laboured his way into form with a patient century before Irfan Pathan produced a devastating spell to put India on the threshold of a resounding victory in the first cricket Test against Zimbabwe here on Thursday.

The left-handed Ganguly (101) notched up his 12th Test hundred to come out of a prolonged form slump as the visitors rattled up 554 all out in their first innings to open up a huge lead of 275 and then leave the hosts tottering at 67 for six at close on the third day.

After Ganguly completed his first century in nearly two years, it was Irfan Pathan who stole the limelight at the Queen's Club ground late in the day with a brilliant spell of swing bowling to demolish the Zimbabwe top order, returning with figures of four for 35.

With the innings in tatters at 18 for five, skipper Tatenda Taibu (30 not out) once again had to dig deep and there was some sort of recovery through his sixth-wicket partnership with Coventry (24).

But after adding 49 runs, Coventry, playing the last over of the day, groped forward to Harbhajan, only to see the ball bat-pad its way to Gautam Gambhir at forward shortleg.

Harbhajan Singh, wicketless in the first innings, finally claimed his 200th Test wicket with the dismissal of Charles Coventry of what turned out to be the last ball of the day.

The Punjab off-spinner became the fastest Indian to reach the landmark in only 46 Tests.

The hosts were still trailing by 208 runs and with two full days left, it was just a matter of time before the Indians wrapped up the game for a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Sourav Ganguly Test averages
vs ZIM851413641.3021163-7

Ganguly's confidence-boosting century came at a painstakingly slow pace as he consumed 261 balls before perishing to Ewing in the very next ball in a bid to force the pace of scoring.

Ganguly had waited for nearly two years and 13 Tests to add another century to his tally which was his 12th in his 83rd game.

There was a certain inevitability about it, given the stingless attack of Zimbabwe and the purpose with which the left-hander has batted in this innings.

First Published: Sep 15, 2005 18:32 IST