India ride on Ganguly's ton to rout Zimbabwe

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2000, 23:00 [IST]
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Ahemdabad: India scored an emphatic 61-run victory over Zimbabwe to establish a 2-0 lead in the five-match One-day International series at the Motera Stadium on Tuesday. The Indian effort was underlined by skipper Saurav Ganguly's fine century.India scored a massive 306 for four in 50 overs riding on the 175-run second wicket partnership between Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. Zimbabwe reached 254 for eight with Grant Flower and Heath Streak scoring identical 51 runs. The Zimbabwean skipper, however, remained unbeaten. The Zimbabwean run chase never got going at the outset with the Indian medium pacers picking up early wickets. Venkatesh Prasad got through the gate of Marillier early in the innings and Zaheer Khan got rid off Stuart Carlisle.

With Sachin Tendulkar chipping in with a wicket along with Sunil Joshi, Zimbabwe were reduced to for four. The introduction of the second left-arm spinner Sridharan Sriram further pushed the Zimbabwe on the back foot. Sriram, who replaced Ajit Agarkar, justified the faith reposed in him by quickly breaking the fifth wicket partnership.Andy Flower, who had a splendid run in the Test series, and Guy Whittall were the last hopes for the Zimbabweans. Just as they were about to settle down into their fifth wicket stand, Sriram got the wicket of Whittall when he was caught in the deep by Venkatesh Prasad.Sriram also got the prize wicket of Andy Flower who tamely gave a return catch to dash the hopes of the Zimbabweans.

The fall of these two wickets in quick succession more or less sealed the match in India's favour and the remaining Zimbabwe batsmen went through the motions of completing the match.Earlier, Ganguly's blistering century put India on the threshold of a victory. Ganguly was at his best and took on the responsibility of building the Indian innings after the fall of Tendulkar's wicket. Ganguly and Rahul Dravid put the Indian innings on a good platform before the Indian captain launched into the Zimbabwean spinners with his clean hits. Ganguly's well-paced knock fetched him 144 runs from 152 balls with eight fours and six sixes.

India lost an early wicket when Sachin Tendulkar was surprised by the bounce of Travis Friend even before he could settle down. Friend got the ball to bounce and cut in late to take the glove off a defensive prod for Andy Flower to take the catch.Not hesitating to use his feet, Ganguly danced down the wicket to hoist the spinners over the fence in the arc between long on and deep mid wicket. The Indian skipper reached his 16th One-day International century with a flick to deep square leg off Streak. Ganguly's 100 came off 128 balls with six four and three sixes. Rahul Dravid was once again run out backing up too far. Saurav Ganguly played firmly on the off side and Dravid took off before he was sent back. A direct hit by Heath Streak left Dravid short of his crease for a well made 62 runs from 88 balls with three fours.

Yuvraj Singh was lucky to be given the benefit of doubt of a snick by umpire Hariharan off the bowling off Marillier, who was brought on by Heath Streak to bowl his off-spinners at the left handers. The Zimbabweans set a high standard on the field and deprived India of at least 20 runs.Marillier, however, paid a heavy price when he went for 21 runs in the 44th over of the innings. Ganguly improvised superbly to twice send the ball over the ropes as the Zimbabwe fielders just watched in awe. Dirk Viljoen then came under the Ganguly bludgeon to concede 10 runs. The left-arm spinner then floated down the leg side and Ganguly's miscued shot was well taken by Marillier.

Yuvraj, who was dropped by Heath Streak off the very next ball, did not learn from the escape and fell trying to clear Murphy to be well taken by Streak this time.Left-handed, all-rounder Sunil Joshi played a cameo knock off 22 runs from 12 balls to push the Indian total towards the 300-mark. The third ODI is scheduled to be played at Jodhpur on December 8.

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