Nagpur: Despite making significant dents in Zimbabwe's batting order, India was unable to finish it off as the tourists survived the opening day of the first Test on Thursday reasonably placed at 248 for eight.First a second wicket stand between skipper Stuart Carlisle and Alistair Campbell and then late order resistance by Travis Friend and Heath Streak kept the Indian bowlers at bay after Zimbabwe decided to take the first strike on winning the toss.
Carlisle, who top-scored with 77, and Campbell (57) put on 106 for the second wicket after losing opener Trevor Gripper cheaply for five. But India fought back in the post-lunch session and reduced the visitors to 182 for six before Friend and Streak produced cameo knocks to keep alive the hopes of posting a good total. Friend was going strong on 33 while Ray Price, the only spinner in the Zimbabwean ranks, was on six at stumps. For India, leg spinner Anil Kumble and left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan bagged three wickets each. Off spinner Harbhajan Singh, who bowled beautifully throughout the day, was unlucky to go wicket less.
The Zimbabwe batsmen started cautiously aiming to keep their wickets intact in the morning session. They succeeded in their goal to a large extent when they took lunch at 60 for one, losing only Gripper who was out at the total of 15. Gripper fended at an outgoing delivery from Zaheer Khan and paid the price with wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta bringing off a good diving catch. Carlisle and Campbell then concentrated on building the innings and even though Campbell showed some aggressive instincts initially, runs came in a trickle for Zimbabwe.
Carlisle crossed 1,000 runs when he hit all-rounder Sanjay Bangar for a four to reach 15. Bangar, a surprise inclusion in the Indian side after being preferred over Virender Sehwag, bowled an impressive seven over spell in which he conceded 11 runs. The pair stepped up the scoring in the second session with Campbell doing the bulk of the scoring. One of the three former captains in the side, Campbell reached his 14th Test 50 before Kumble, who was taken for a few runs by the batsman in his opening spell, dismissed him.
Campbell drove Kumble uppishly and the ball went straight to Laxman who took a good low catch at short mid-off. Zaheer Khan then produced the big wicket when he clean bowled Andy Flower with a perfect yorker. Andy Flower, who has an awesome record against India, could manage only three runs and Zimbabwe lost its third wicket at 125.