Georgetown (Guyana): The Indians warmed up for the opening Test against the West Indies with a nine-wicket win over a second-string Guyana Board President's XI in the three-day match on Sunday. Ace leg spinner Anil Kumble starred in the tourists victory in the only practice game before the first Test, starting at Bourda on April 11. The spinner finished with five for 50 off 21 disciplined overs as the host, trailing by 130 runs, was shot out for 168 in its second innings on the third and final day at the Everest ground.
Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan was the other successful bowler in the morning session, capturing the last two wickets to finish with two for 37. The tourists faced no difficulty in scoring the 39 runs required for victory, with opener Shiv Sunder Das scoring an unbeaten 18. Kumble kept a tidy line and length to keep pressure on the batsmen, bagging three of the remaining five Guyanese wickets. The Indian hopes of posting an innings win, however, were dashed by Guyanese wicket- keeper Vishal Nagamootoo, who scored a defiant 78. Nagamootoo, younger brother of Test spinner Mahendra, hit 11 fours in his 107-ball knock to force the tourists bat again.
He kept the Indian attack at bay with his resolute batting after Kumble had raised visions of an innings victory with two wickets in his opening spell. Nagamootoo then received valuable support from lower-order batsman to make the Indians struggle for wickets, putting on 37 for the seventh wicket with Damodar Dasrath (22) and 30 for the next with Reon Griffith. He offered just one chance in his 115-minute knock, but not before his team had averted the innings defeat. He was on 76 in a total of 166 when dropped by V V S Laxman at second slip off Zahher.
Nagamootoo was the last batsman out, driving Zaheer straight to Srinath, who brought off a low catch at mid-on. The Indian bowlers now go into the opening Test without being tested as the Guyanese batsmen twice faltered against pace and spin. Nagamootoo was the only batsman to score a half-century. India's main bowlers struck it rich, with Kumble taking seven wickets in the match. Off spinner Harbhajan Singh finished with five, while pacemen Srinath and Zaheer shared the other eight. All, however, was not well with the Indian batting even against the weak opposition.