Nagpur: Left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan grabbed two wickets to put Zimbabwe under pressure in the first Test against India on Thursday. Zaheer removed the prolific Andy Flower and opener Trevor Gripper in his two testing spells to restrict Zimbabwe to 165 for four at tea on the opening day despite half- centuries from skipper Stuart Carlisle and Alistair Campbell (57). Carlisle was batting on 67 and Grant Flower on eight after the tourists had lost three wickets for 33 runs in the post-lunch session. Zaheer's big wicket came in the afternoon when he bowled Andy Flower with a swinging yorker to neutralise the advantage given by Carlisle and left-handed Campbell. Carlisle and Campbell looked set to put their team on course for a big total with a 106-run stand for the second wicket before India seized the initiative with three wickets in the space of 11 overs.
Leg spinner Anil Kumble broke the partnership when he dismissed Campbell, driving uppishly to Venkat Sai Laxman in the covers after hitting nine fours in his 17th Test half-century. The left-handed Flower, who scored 540 runs in two Tests on his team's last tour of India in 2000, contributed three before being beaten by Zaheer.
Gavin Rennie (9), surprised by the bounce of paceman Javagal Srinath's delivery, was caught off his gloves by substitute Virender Sehwag at third slip as the tourists failed to capitalise on the Campbell-Carlisle stand. Carlisle continued to bat resolutely and reached his seventh half-century in 26 Tests when he cut Kumble for a four. He also completed 1,000 runs during his 181- ball knock. Zimbabwe batted slowly in the morning session after winning the toss on an easy- paced pitch, scoring just 60 in 28 overs for the loss of one wicket.
Gripper fell in the day's eighth over, edging a Zaheer away-going delivery to be caught by a diving wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta. Carlisle and Campbell stepped up the run-rate in the post-lunch session, which produced 105 in 29 overs. The Zimbabwean captain, in a rare show of aggression, lofted off spinner Harbhajan Singh over mid-on for a four and then straight for the first six of the match. Zaheer, returning to the squad after being dropped for a three-Test home series against England, looked the best bowler on a pitch, which favoured neither seamers nor spinners.
India preferred all-rounder Sanjay Bangar to middle-order batsman Sehwag, while Zimbabwe left out Craig Wishart, Dion Ebrahim and Mpumelelo Mbangwa for the first match of a two-Test series.