November 28, 2000

Grant Flower will remember his innings for long

Sachin Tendulkar, the megastar in Indian cricket compiled a double century at the VCA ground in Nagpur. Like he did in Delhi, the morning session was chosen by him to launch the assault. The Zimbabwe medium pacers were driven and cut in a majestic manner and the crowd got their money's worth on the second day. Tendulkar looked very determined to get to his double century once his partner Dravid was dismissed after lunch. The partnership between Dravid and Tendulkar was entertaining with both of them unleashing a wide range of shots. Dravid looked like getting his second consecutive double hundred before he was caught behind. Heath was the bowler and he thought that he had had Dravid caught down the legside on the first day.

Ganguly struggled for his timing as he tried to hustle the run rate to bring about the declaration. Eventually he had to wait for the master batsman Tendulkar to reach his double hundred for the declaration. Sunil Joshi played a cameo of an innings, which helped Tendulkar to play in an unhurried manner. The Indians posted a huge total on the board and the bowlers were given enough time to bowl the team to a victory. But what transpired on the third day was not exactly what the Indians wanted.

Zimbabwe replied in a positive manner with Whittall opening the innings along with Rennie. Streak swapped the batting positions for Grant Flower and Whittall and it was a brave move as both of them were hard up for runs. The visitors were down but it did not affect their thinking process. Whittal plays the faster bowlers better than the spinners and that was proved as he played a very positive knock for Zimbabwe. He did have his fair share of luck as he edged now and Tendulkar dropped him off Agarkar. Agarkar bowled with a lot of imagination and he was unfortunate not to have more success.

Grant Flower showed a lot of character by playing a very important innings under tremendous pressure. He never scored a run in Delhi and he walked in at a time when the visitors were struggling after lunch. He along with his brother Andy stemmed the rot and took the pressure off by getting stuck into the spinners. Andy notched up another half century and Grant is in sight of his hundred. When Grant gets to his hundred he will remember this particular innings for a long time. Andy played a poor shot when he was just about looking to do a repeat of his first innings at the Kotla.

The Indians bowled well in spells and it was a delight to see Zaheer Khan work up real pace on a placid pitch. Srinath bowled well within himself and he could not make the same impression as he did at the Kotla. Sunil Joshi continues to be an enigma as he once again failed to deliver the goods. Ganguly has a lot of faith in him but I get the feeling that Joshi does not back himself enough. He started off well but reverted back to his restrictive mode bowling far too quicker through the air. Towards the end of the third day he was erratic, bowling on both sides of the wicket. Sharandeep Singh, the debutant had a very good start to his career when he had two quick wickets but came in for some severe punishment from Grant Flower.

Ganguly should have been a bit more positive on the third day as the batsmen were not crowded enough around the bat. There was no way restricting the runs would have brought about the required results. Zimbabwe have got themselves into a position to avoid the follow on and if that happens it will be really interesting to see the tactics adopted by the Indians in the second innings. They have the option of getting some quick runs and put the Zimbabweans back on. But if the proceedings on the third day is anything to go by, this Test match should peter out to be an insipid draw.