Test Match

INDIA v ZIMBABWE 1992-93

Toss: India. Test debuts: V. S. Yadav; G. A. Briant, U. Ranchod.

The scoreboard read Zimbabwe 275 for three, A. Flower 115, G. W. Flower 96. About half an hour after lunch on the fourth day a draw was written all over the one-off Test and Feroz Shah Kotla seemed destined to mark the end of India's sequence of stirring triumphs. A sudden rush of blood came to Andy Flower's head, like some African gust of wind. He charged Maninder Singh, the slow left-armer, to be stumped by the wicket-keeper Vijay Yadav. The complexion of the contest changed decisively. The Flowers had been well set to join Ian and Greg Chappell and Mushtaq and Sadiq Mohammad as the third pair of brothers to make centuries in the same Test innings, but Grant was lbw in Maninder's next over. Zimbabwe's defiance of Indian spin was at an end. By tea the visitors were batting again.

For India it had been a battle against time. Almost a day was lost thanks to the primitive covers, which a minor shower penetrated to reach the pitch and render the run-ups soggy. The momentum on the opening day, which saw successive century partnerships for the second and third wickets, was arrested. But in the brief play possible on the second day Kambli took part in a third stand that went over 100, for the fourth wicket, before running out his captain, Azharuddin, while in the nervous 190s. He went on to emulate Hammond and Bradman in making a second successive Test double-century, before he fell victim to the veteran off-spinner Traicos. Kambli came three runs closer than he did against England in Bombay to breaking the record score by an Indian in Test cricket, S. M. Gavaskar's 236 not out against West Indies at Madras nine years earlier. But he remained third, behind V. Mankad's 231 against New Zealand at Madras in 1955-56. The accuracy of Traicos was the only check on the rampaging Indian batsmen until India called a halt at lunch on the third day, with Amre's quick fifty having taken them to an imposing 536.

Zimbabwe would have left satisfied at the close that evening. The Flowers had steadied the innings after Arnott was leg-before first ball, with Campbell and Houghton dismissed by the 34th over. The left-handed Andy and the right-handed Grant formed an effective combination to counter the spinners, and held them at bay for 192 runs and nearly 82 overs. Andy, who scored his 115 in 289 minutes from 236 balls, was the more aggressive foil to Grant, who made his 96 in 425 minutes and 359 balls.

Once the brothers had gone the spinners shared the spoils. But it was the last wicket, that of Shah attempting a second run against Sidhu's throwing arm at long leg, which sealed Zimbabwe's fate. They were left 15 short of saving the follow-on and they struggled throughout their second innings after Grant Flower was lbw in the second over. A bright 61 from Campbell and his stand of 64 with fellow left-hander Andy Flower, after Houghton went early on the final day, represented the height of resistance. Andy Flower's second, more subdued, innings lasted 214 minutes and 191 balls; it was defence of a high calibre on a wearing pitch. In all, he spent more than eight hours at the crease and ensured that Zimbabwe were far from disgraced. But Maninder took four-for 66 and Kumble, mixing top-spinners with the occasional genuine leg-break, finished with five for 70 and eight in the match, giving him 53 in ten Tests, the quickest any Indian bowler has reached 50 wickets.

Man of the Match: V. G. Kambli.

Close of play: First day, India 340-3 (V. G. Kambli 176*, M. Azharuddin 29*); Second day, India 411-4 (V. G. Kambli 207*, P. K. Amre 12*) 9, Third day, Zimbabwe 152-3 (G. W. Flower 47*, A. Flower 46*); Fourth day, Zimbabwe 62-2 (A. D. R. Campbell 31*, D. L. Houghton 1*).

© John Wisden & Co