Jodhpur: Zimbabwe scored a thrilling one-wicket victory with just one ball to spare against India to keep the five-match One-day International series alive at the Barakatullah Stadium on Friday. Zimbabwe reached 284 for nine in 49.5 overs with the adrenaline running very high.This was the first match to be played at Jodhpur and the spectators could not have asked for anything better. Flower brothers - Andy and Grant - have been the mainstay of the Zimbabwe batting and they more or less won the match with their fourth wicket partnership of 158 runs. Venkatesh Prasad's slower delivery undid Grant Flower and thereafter Zimbabwe lost two more wickets in quick succession.Grant Flower played Prasad uppishly for Yuvraj Singh to take the catch. Grant Flower scored 70 runs from 94 balls with two fours and one six.
Gavin Rennie was immediately run out for a duck with Yuvraj Singh firing in the return to wicket-keeper Vijay Dahiya.Andy Flower, who was visibly upset at the fall of Rennie's wicket, was caught by Dahiya, who juggled with the ball before taking the catch, off Sachin Tendulkar and India sensed victory. Andy Flower's 76 came off 105 balls with five fours and one six.The Zimbabwe tail, however, had a different tale to tell, with Nkala playing a quick fire knock off 36 runs from 27 balls with four fours and one six. Nkala was run out with Zimbabwe requiring one run for victory. Last man Olonga completed the winning run as Zimbabwe reduced the series score to 2-1 in India's favour.Zimbabwe began their innings with Guy Whittall and Alistair Campbell opening the innings in the hope of getting some quick runs.
But, their plans went awry as the Indian opening bowlers Zaheer Khan and Venkatesh Prasad chipped in with a wicket each.Campbell, who showed aggressive intents at the outset, was surprised by the bounce of Zaheer and edged to wicket-keeper Dahiya. Whittall was undone by Prasad's slower delivery and was caught playing a stroke which he wouldn't want too. The ball lobbed in the air on the off side for Ganguly to accept a simple catch.Prasad then struck of his stock delivery, a patent leg cutter. Stuart Carlisle went for the drive on seeing the width, but managed to get a thick edge as the ball moved away.
Wicket-keeper Vijay Dahiya made no mistake as Zimbabwe were reduced to 52 for three.Zaheer Khan slammed four sixes off Henry Olonga's last over and Sachin Tendulkar hit a masterly century as India reached a confident total. India were off to a brilliant start, solely due to the efforts of Tendulkar, strutted in the middle and accelerated towards the end. Zaheer Khan perhaps played the best knock of his career as he repeatedly carted Olonga out of the ground. Zaheer was unbeaten on 32 runs from 11 balls as Olonga went for 27 runs in his last over as India set Zimbabwe a fairly stiff target to chase.
Despite Sachin Tendulkar scoring his 27th One-day International century, India lost their way in the middle with wickets falling in a heap after the fall of Rahul Dravid. The inexperience of the Indian middle order stood exposed the moment Zimbabwe had got rid of the top two batsmen. Tendulkar was out in the 47th over in a bid to push the Indian scoring. Tendulkar's 146 came off 153 balls with 15 fours and two sixes.India made one change with Ajit Agarkar replacing Sridharan Sriram from the team that beat Zimbabwe by 61 runs at Ahemdabad. Zimbabwe made three changes bringing in Bryan Strang, Gavin Rennie and M Nkala to replace Dirk Viljoen, Douglas Marillier and Brian Murphy respectively.