First Test

India v ZImbabwe

At Nagpur, February 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. India won by an innings and 101 runs. Toss: Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe returned to the Orange City of Nagpur, where they had played their last Indian Test in November 2000, and for the second time running they conceded three hundreds in an innings. Das and Tendulkar re-enacted their feats of 15 months earlier, and the third century came from Bangar, in his second Test. But in 2000-01, the Zimbabweans had responded in kind on a placid pitch: Andy Flower had scored a career-best 232, supported by Campbell's maiden Test hundred, to stave off an innings defeat. This time, Flower managed 11 runs in all on a dusty, crumbling surface, as Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, both missing from the earlier encounter, bowled India to an overwhelming victory.

Carlisle had taken first use of the pitch, and Campbell seemed to enjoy his return as they shared a second-wicket stand of 106. But once Kumble parted them, and Andy Flower lost his leg stump to his 12th delivery, an in-swinging yorker from Zaheer Khan, the middle order crumbled. Friend, at No. 9, cut and drove to an unbeaten 60 in 70 balls to prolong the innings into the second morning.

Das spent most of the rest of the day compiling his second century against Zimbabwe, batting for five hours until he edged Price to slip in the final over. That was the cue for Tendulkar's entrance. Even he was slowed down by the pitch, but he cruised to his 28th Test hundred, one behind Bradman. Price bowled a marathon spell, but Friend was barred from the attack by umpire Venkataraghavan after bowling a beamer at Tendulkar on the third evening - he had been warned and no-balled the previous day for a similar offence against Das. By then, Bangar had joined Tendulkar, and next morning, after three days dominated by drudgery, they took off, adding 110 in 16 overs together. Bangar repeatedly rushed down the pitch to attack Price, who nevertheless claimed Tendulkar as his fifth victim, as Bangar hurried on to a hard-hitting maiden century. It announced not only his arrival on the big stage, but India's determination to press for a win.

Ganguly promptly declared, at a monumental 570. Needing to muster 283 to make India bat again, or to survive for just over five sessions, Zimbabwe soon wilted against the clinical spin of Kumble and Harbhajan. By the close, the cream of their batting had already been skimmed, with only the opener, Gripper, stubbornly hanging on. On the final day, a sparse crowd had to wait little more than an hour to see Kumble and Harbhajan, bowling unchanged, complete the last rites. They snared nine wickets between them.

Man of the Match: A. Kumble.

Close of play: First day, Zimbabwe 248-8 (Friend 33, Price 6); Second day, India 209-2 (Dravid 57, Tendulkar 0); Third day, India 437-5 (Tendulkar 137, Bangar 22); Fourth day, Zimbabwe 152-4 (Gripper 52, Price 4).

© John Wisden & Co