Ganguly fashions a big Indian victory

Published: Friday, October 1, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
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SouravSourav Ganguly exhibited his art and craft in a manner born. This stylish left-hander hailed as the "prince of Calcutta" by millions of his fans in India, performed like a king on Friday against Zimbabwe in the last league match of the LG Cup four-nation Series. India won by 107 runs and entered the final where it will take on South Africa on Sunday. Ganguly got the "man of the match" award. Opening the innings, Ganguly was out only in the fifth ball of the 47th over. The graceful off-side stroke-play, the silken touch while dealing with the balls directed on his leg stump, and the huge drives over the long-on and long-off fence all carried the stamp of class that we rarely witness in modern cricket. Cricket admirers belonging to earlier generations would have certainly seen in Ganguly the elegance of great left-handers like Neil Harvey (Australia), David Gower (England) and Alvin Kallicharan (West Indies) and, of course, this generation's own Brian Lara. Zimbabwe nurtured a huge ambition today. It had to win this match by a big margin so as to go to the final along with India pushing South Africa out of the championship on better net run-rate. So, after winning the toss, Zimbabwe chose to field. The fluent fashion in which India openers Ganguly and S.Ramesh went about their job (70 in 17overs) must have increased tension in the Zimbabwe camp. Ramesh made 31 in 49 balls. In the next 20 overs the second wicket pair of Ganguly and Robin Singh treated Zimbabwe bowlers with disdain putting on 107 runs. Robin made 41 off 62 balls (4x4, 1x6). Rahul Dravid left soonafter (213 for 3 in 43.2). But Ganguly who raced to his eighth ODI century went on merrily till 139 (147 balls, 11x4, 5x6) before driving Guy Whittal into the safe hands of Alistair Campbell. The score read 245 for 5 in 46.5 over. Another left-hander Sunil Joshi took over charge and smashed 25 runs in 13 balls (2x4, 2x6) before being beaten and bowled by Guy Whittal in the 3rd ball of the last over. So India's huge total of 277 for six in 50, gave Zimbabwe an uphill task of making the needed runs in 42 overs to edge out South Africa on better net run-rate. That was the main interest expected from the second session of the day. Zimbabwe was given a promising start of 52 for no loss in 10 overs by Neil Johnson (52 in 67,6x4) and Grant Flower (38 in 38, 6x4). But once off-spinner Nikhil Chopra took three wickets in eight balls to make the score 131 for six in 27 overs, the outcome became very obvious. After Vijay Bharadwaj had taken three wickets, Chopra took one more to end Zimbabwe's innings at 170 in 38.3 overs.

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