Zaheer scripts Indian victory
India finally tasted victory after six successive defeats, hanging on grimly to score a thrilling two-wicket win in the fifth one-dayer.india Updated: Jan 09, 2003 12:22 IST
Pace bowler Zaheer Khan made decisive contributions with both bat and ball to steer India to a long-awaited victory in the one-day series against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Zaheer followed up his three for 30 with an unbeaten 34, scoring the final runs with five overs to spare in their two-wicket win. New Zealand lead the best-of-seven series 4-1.
The home side were bowled out for 168 in 42.4 overs, India replying with 169 for eight.
Zaheer, who rode his luck during an innings full of aggression, added 44 for the eighth wicket with Youvraj Singh (54), who hit a well-crafted half-century before falling to Daniel Vettori with nine runs needed for victory.
Zaheer paid tribute to the fine innings by Youvraj and some good advice from Srinath after his partner fell.
"He told me we were in no hurry and not to do anything silly," said Zaheer. "We just pushed for singles and got a four, which took the pressure off, but it was certainly nice to hit that winning run."
Opener Virender Sehwag hit a speedy 45 but he was the only other Indian to reach double figures. Sachin Tendulkar, making his debut in the series after recovering from an ankle injury, fell for a duck after being trapped leg before by Shane Bond.
"Everyone is very happy in the dressing room we have finally won a match on this tour," Zaheer said.
"We've been trying very hard and have not been able to deliver. We thought it was just a matter of time and with two matches to go we feel it will be a moral victory if we can beat them twice more."
New Zealand recovered from a torrid start after they lost their first three wickets for just three runs.
Zaheer was the chief destroyer, removing Nathan Astle and Mathew Sinclair off successive balls for ducks in his first over, then sending back Chris Harris leg before in his next.
"I enjoyed bowling on that wicket," Zaheer, who was named man-of-the-match, said. "The ball was doing a lot and it certainly helped me."
A middle-order rally gave the New Zealand innings some momentum, with contributions from Andre Adams (35), Brendon McCullum (35) and Chris Cairns (25), playing his first one-day international since pulling up with knee problems in the first test against England a year ago.
"We had the chance to get to 200 but those partnerships were ended just at the wrong time for us," New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said.
"We didn't deserve to win today," he said. "Batting first was not wise...then with the bowling we conceded too many extras.
Twenty-three extras could have been the difference between winning and losing, so there are a couple of disciplines we need to address."