New Delhi: India fought back with three wickets in the last session to restrict Zimbabwe to 260 for six despite half-centuries from Andy Flower and Dion Ebrahim in the second Test on Thursday.
Andy Flower, without a half-century in his last eight Test innings, returned to form with an impressive 92 on his favourite Ferozeshah Kotla Ground before Zimbabwe slipped in the closing session, losing three wickets for 65. Ebrahim was batting with a career-best 82 at stumps, having so far struck nine fours in his fourth Test half-century. Travis Friend was on seven. The prolific Andy Flower missed his third successive Test century at this venue, and 13th overall, but batted resolutely to help his team recover from 11 for two with a 116-run stand for the fourth wicket with Ebrahim. Andy Flower, who had scored 115 and 183 not out in his last two Tests here, received valuable support from Ebrahim who celebrated his recall to the squad with a solid innings. India, which failed to take a wicket in the second session, dismissed Andy Flower, Heath Streak and Grant Flower in the last to put Zimbabwe under pressure after the tourists had elected to bat on an easy-paced pitch. The left-handed Andy Flower struck one six and 15 fours in his 154-ball knock before being caught bat-pad by Shiv Sunder Das at forward short-leg off spinner Harbhajan Singh. Grant Flower was run for 30 going for a risky single, while Streak was bowled by leg spinner Anil Kumble. Andy Flower and Ebrahim had steadied the innings with their big stand after Indian seamers Zaheer Khan (two for 44) and Javagal Srinath (one for 22) had rescued the tourists to 65 for three during their lively spells in the morning. India then had to wait for more than a session for its fourth wicket as Andy Flower and Ebrahim kept batting steadily. Andy Flower's best came in the afternoon session when he twice swept and once drove Kumble for three fours in an over. He also swept the leg spinner for the first six of the match. Ebrahim continued to defy the Indian attack, surpassing his previous best of 71 during his 183-ball innings. Zimbabwe, trailing 1-0 in the two-Test series following their defeat by an innings and 101 runs in the previous match at Nagpur on Monday, made a poor start on a pitch likely to favour spin from the third day. Srinath struck with the fourth delivery of the match when he bowled skipper Staurt Carlisle with the one that came in sharply. Zaheer kept pressure from the other end, having opener Trevor Gripper caught by Rahul Dravid at first slip for eight to reduce the tourists to 11 for two. Andy Flower then led a mini recovery, adding 54 for the third wicket with Alistair Campbell. Zimbabwe again suffered a setback when Campbell was surprised by the bounce of a Zaheer delivery, edging it to Dravid at first slip after contributing 16. India and Zimbabwe both made one change from the teams that played in the opening Test. The hosts included middle-order batsman Virender Sehwag in place of an out-of-form Venkat Sai Laxman, while Zimbabwe replaced Gavin Rennie with Ebrahim.
Scorecard of Day 1
Photo gallery: Test 1