Sharjah: Did Zimbabwe make India work up a sweat? Well, literally speaking there was no need for there was sweat pouring all over, as it was a very sticky and humid day at the Sharjah Cricket Ground. But yes, even on a cool day Zimbabwe would have made India sweat through and through, with the kind of performance they dished out on Thursday.219? A piece of cake, that's what everybody must have thought at the beginning of India's run chase but trust India to make a hash of things and you can rest assured they won't let you down. Some astonishing fielding by the Zimbabweans and a great lot of help from the Indians enabled a close finish. Zimbabwe started off with a change in strategy; opening with Travis Friend, who responded to his captain's call by picking up the prize wicket of Tendulkar and followed it with Sriram's wicket in the same over.
The fall of two quick wickets then saw Ganguly and Kambli taking a cautious approach, which enabled the Zimbabweans to keep themselves in the game, if not with a good chance, at least in close range.Although Ganguly and Kambli put on 106 runs for the third wicket they had put it up at a moderate pace and so when Ganguly fell, followed by Yuvraj, there suddenly was a match in the offing. With the pressure now on, Robin Singh unnecessarily got himself run out to have the Indian dressing room going for the panic button.But things still looked under control as long as Kambli was around but his departure handed Zimbabwe with a real good chance. However, one man, Joshi who has been denied his due on umpteen occasions yet again batted handsomely to see India through to a three-wicket win with the help of some clever batting from Dahiya and Agarkar.
Earlier Zimbabwe failed to put up a competitive total on board and ended up with 218 for nine and courtesy Campbell, Zimbabwe were able to post what they eventually did.Alistair Campbell came up with his fourth century in ODI's to hold the Zimbabwe innings together and remain unbeaten on 105. While wickets kept falling at regular intervals Campbell retained his composure to take his team to a respectable, if not competitive, total.None of the other Zimbabwe batsmen were able to chalk up a significant score, although all of them got a start. The Indian bowlers especially Prasad and Zaheer were penetrative, accounting for six wickets amongst themselves.
Zaheer was simply exemplary in the slog overs bowling his lethal Yorkers at will and picking up three wickets in the death; all three bowled.After the departure of Paul Strang at 61, Campbell and Carlisle looked good for a long haul but Yuvraj's brilliance in the field accounted for an outstanding run out to send Carlisle on his way. The third wicket partnership yielded fifty runs. Thereafter wickets tumbled at regular intervals and Zimbabwe were never able to launch an assault and ended up with a not too threatening 218.India take on Sri Lanka in the last leaguer encounter, in what can be said as a dress rehearsal for the final as both the teams have now qualified for the finals.
Man of the Match: Alistair Campbell