Harare: Sachin Tendulkar once again top scored with 81 as India's batting worked in fits and starts to score 255-7 from 50 overs in a crunch World Cup match against hosts Zimbabwe on Wednesday. India, which needs a win to stay in contention for the Super Six, failed to build on a rollicking start by Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag after being sent in to bat in overcast conditions.
The pair smashed a run-a-ball 99 for the first wicket to justify out-of-touch captain Saurav Ganguly's decision to drop himself down the order and promote Sehwag to open the innings. India, 142 for one at one stage, lost five wickets for 85 runs after part-time spinner Grant Flower grabbed two wickets in three balls to help Zimbabwe wrest back the initiative. Rahul Dravid returned unbeaten on 43 and Mohammad Kaif made 25 as India set Zimbabwe a victory target of 5.1 runs an over at the Harare Sports Club.
It was an improved batting display by the Indians who failed to last 50 overs against the Netherlands and were shot out for 125 by reigning champions Australia. Tendulkar, who had also top scored in the previous two matches, hit 10 boundaries in his 91-ball innings. Sehwag made 36 off 38 balls when he was caught behind off Guy Whittall. Grant Flower, bowling left-arm spinner, scared the Indians by removing Dinesh Mongia and Tendulkar off successive deliveries in the 28th over.
Tendulkar, looking for his 34th One-day century, fell to a beauty as the ball pitched on the leg stump and clipped the off bail to the delight of the Zimbabweans. The Indian batting star was jeered off the field after waiting for the third-umpire confirmation that the bail had not been knocked off by wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu.
Ganguly hit a six with a straight drive off leg spinner Brian Murphy, but made only 24 when he was caught off the leading edge as he attempted to drive Andy Blignaut. Yuvraj Singh fell to Murphy, while Kaif was trapped leg before by Douglas Hondo after smashing a four and six earlier in the over. Copyright AFP 2001