June 4, 2001

CFX Academy succumb to dominant India

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The Indian tourists won their mismatch of teams against the CFX Academy by 226 runs with 13 overs to spare, thanks to superb bowling by Javagal Srinath and Harbhajan Singh. For the Academy, Barney Rogers played an excellent fighting innings of 65 not out, but most of his colleagues were no match for the top-quality Indian bowling.

During the morning session, Sadagoppan Ramesh and Hemang Badani enjoyed a useful practice session in fine batting conditions against undemanding bowling. They did not seek to dominate the bowlers, although left-arm spinner Ian Coulson again suffered at times, with Badani hitting him for an effortless straight six. Badani cruised to 35 before becoming the fourth Indian batsman to retire during the match.

The accurate Sean Ervine finally took the Academy's second genuine wicket of the match when he trapped Sameer Dighe lbw for 6. Shortly afterwards they missed the chance of another, bungling what should have been an easy run-out of Ramesh. The batsman retired in any case at the end of the over, for 52. It had been hard enough as it was for the Academy in the field, but missed catches and a run-out added salt to their own wound.

Finally a catch was taken as Dion Ebrahim held Harbhajan Singh (16) in the deep off Barney Rogers. Sairaj Bahutule fell lbw later in the over without scoring and the Indians decided to call it a day at 128 for five. Theoretically the Academy needed 383 to win in 66 overs.

The Academy soon found themselves in trouble again at the start of their innings. Without a run on the board, Ebrahim flicked at a ball from Srinath and was caught at the wicket. The double failure of Zimbabwe's latest Test match opener is depressing for the home side and could put his place in doubt. He is certainly not batting with his usual confidence.

Srinath worked up a good pace and found movement off the pitch, using four slips and a gully, and a few overs later comprehensively bowled the gallant but struggling Duffin for 4. Next to go was Guy Croxford, playing positively as usual but trapped lbw for 15. The Indian fielding effort did not match their bowling, though, with the captain setting a poor example to his team, and no doubt the coach will have some comments to make.

Then Srinath was rested and the pressure instantly lifted. Barney Rogers and Mluleki Nkala settled into a more confident partnership, handling the later bowlers, even Harbhajan, with more comfort. At tea the Academy were heading towards safety at 81 for three.

They continued to flourish afterwards, with the left-handed Rogers sweeping Harbhajan to good effect, but it was the off-spinner who finally made the breakthrough, having Nkala caught in the slips off a top-edged sweep for 59. Ervine fell immediately, adjudged lbw to Bahutule; Brent (1) was caught at the wicket and unable to repeat his rescue act of the first innings, and the match had swung sharply again. The Academy were now 129 for six.

Rogers was still there and Campbell Macmillan stood firm for a while until, seemingly unsettled by some aggressive Indian appealing and shows of dissent, he swung wildly at Harbhajan to be bowled. The off-spinner quickly wrapped up the tail to finish with six for 37; Srinath, who did not bowl again, took three for nine.