Second Test

India v ZImbabwe

At Delhi, February 28, March 1, 2, 3, 4. India won by four wickets. Toss: Zimbabwe.

India whitewashed the short series, but Zimbabwe put up much more of a fight, compiling a respectable first-innings total and then, after a second-innings massacre by the spinners, holding their nerve in the field to give India a nasty scare chasing 122.

It was no surprise that Zimbabwe's improvement coincided with Andy Flower's only half-century of the series. He and Ebrahim, who replaced Rennie, joined forces at 65 for three to add 116 before Flower fell to a bat-pad catch off Harbhajan Singh, just after tea. In his previous 60 Tests, he had reached 90 a dozen times and always gone on to a hundred; this was 13th time unlucky. Ebrahim batted into the second morning, when he narrowly missed a maiden Test century and Friend saw Zimbabwe past 300.

Ganguly provided the heart of India's reply with his first Test hundred as captain, in his 18th Test in charge. His last century had been against New Zealand in October 1999: this was his 40th innings and 23rd Test since, and only five fifties had arrived in the interim. But Ganguly broke the jinx after promoting himself to No. 3, and maintained his concentration for seven and a half hours, despite the breaks for bad weather which cut half the third day's play. There was showier support from the local boy Sehwag, who justified his inclusion ahead of Laxman as he scored all but ten of his 74 runs in fours.

India were eight behind when Ganguly swept at Price and became the first of 17 wickets to tumble on an eroding pitch on the fourth day. His team managed a lead of 25, which looked plenty when Zimbabwe fizzled out for 146. Harbhajan grabbed three for one in 17 deliveries, and had Andy Flower caught at short leg for the second innings running, this time for a four-ball duck. The spin tandem of Kumble and Harbhajan snapped up all ten wickets, to finish with 15.

The last man out was Grant Flower, who was soon back in the action when he dismissed Ganguly and Kumble with consecutive deliveries. With Dasgupta already run out by Taibu, leaping to collect the ball behind the wicket, and Sehwag unlikely to bat - he had been stretchered off after injuring his shoulder trying to catch Grant Flower - India were effectively a precarious 36 for four by the close. During this session, Friend was warned by umpire de Silva for bowling a beamer, as Zaheer Khan had been a couple of days earlier.

Tendulkar seemed to be steering India out of the panic zone with a breezy 53-ball 42, but the tension rose when Price removed him for the third time in three innings. Two more quick wickets left India effectively seven down, with 17 required. Those runs should have been fought over like gold nuggets. But India got four leg-byes when Harbhajan survived an lbw appeal, four overthrows from a failed run-out attempt, and a four and a six from Harbhajan settled the issue.

Man of the Match: Harbhajan Singh.
Man of the Series: A. Kumble.

Close of play: First day, Zimbabwe 260-6 (Ebrahim 82, Friend 7); Second day, India 171-4 (Ganguly 78, Sehwag 16); Third day, India 319-6 (Ganguly 135, Kumble 19); Fourth day, India 36-3 (Das 10, Tendulkar 0).

© John Wisden & Co