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    September 17, 2005

    India wins on the field, but..

    After Sehwag, Gambhir & Dravid in the practice game, it was the turn of Laxman & Ganguly to get hundreds as India defeated Zimbabwe by an innings and 90 runs with more than one-and-a-half days to spare at Bulawayo.

    Actually, India started off pretty shoddily and let the hosts score end the first day at 265/7. Irfan Pathan, who ended up with 5/58, did a far better job on the second day by wrapping up the remaining wickets. Sehwag & Gambhir started off briskly but couldn't make the big scores, both were out in the 40s. Dravid batted with great authority but missed out on a century. VVS Laxman then showed his class, admittedly against very mediocre bowling. Ganguly plodded along to 23 while Laxman was unbeaten on 125 at stumps.

    Laxman looked set for a big score, he was run out (by Ganguly) for 140. Yuvraj did nothing to dispell the popular belief that Kaif had been hard done by. Karthick, who will soon start feeling the heat from Dhoni's explots in one-dayers, too fell cheaply. Pathan joined the skipper and made a good half-century. Meanwhile, Ganguly plodded on, playing scratchily most of the time. Spinners of the calibre of Ewing and Dabenga were treated with great respect, as is evident from his scoring rates of 2.09 and 1.85 per over against them.

    Ultimately he did get to his century, his first in tests since the brilliant century at the Gabba in 2003. The very next ball, he got out. Thanks to Harbhajan's fireworks towards the end, India ended up with 554 and they had got just 17.2 overs to bowl for the day and Pathan inflicted some serious damage to Zimbabwe's top order this time around and Zimbabwe were reeling at 67/6 at stumps. Harbhajan, after picking up his 200th test wicket at the fag end of the previous day's play, cleaned up the tail, aside from an embarassing last wicket partnership. Pathan's 9 wickets in the game, and his half-century made him the the obvious choice for Man of the match. For Zimbabwe, Taibu displayed consistency as usual and got to 50+ scores in both the innings with the debutant Duffin scoring a 50 in the first innings.

    Harbhajan became the fastest Indian to take 200 Test wickets and he feels that he is a better bowler now than that series - just because he took 4 Zimbabwean wickets ?

    Irrespective of the opposition, it was never a convincing hundred by Ganguly, but Laxman's was. Laxman looked like getting his form and touch back, but Ganguly didn't and he also queered the pitch by announcing to the media that 'someone' wanted him to resign from captaincy just before the start of the Test. There is still a lot of speculation about who Indian cricket's version of 'Deep Throat' is. Ganguly has also decided to keep his mouth shut now after the match is over and has just praised the bowlers' effort in the victory though he could have given a few more overs to Pathan to help him get his 10-fer.

    As many feel, even I think that Ganguly should have kept his mouth shut from the very beginning. Anand Vasu rightly says
    Prince of Calcutta, we've come to expect more of you. Don't sell yourself so short. And if you must, don't drag the team down with you.

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    Thus spake Ganesh @ 11:20 PM |
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