December 12, 2000

A Zimbabwean in India

In my last report, at the beginning of the one-day series, I alluded to the fact that playing in India is like a cauldron and wondered whether we would be up to taking the heat.

After the first two games in Cuttak and Ahmedebad, I was having my doubts. We got into a very good position in Cuttak, but failed to play well under pressure in the last ten overs and lost by three wickets.

The second game was similar. We played reasonably well for 40 overs but let it go in the last ten overs allowing India to score 110 runs. A 300-plus total was always going to be out of our reach on a deteriorating wicket and we fell 60 runs shy.

We had to win the third ODI and what a humdinger it turned out to be. The crowd got what they came to see. Tendulkar, in full flow, played a masterful innings and India's total of 283 on a wicket that was stopping and variable in bounce was going to be a huge ask.

At 53 for 3 we looked dead and buried but never count out Zimbabwe with the Flower brothers at the crease. They played wonderfully well and put us in a position at least to challenge the India total.

What we, nor the Indians, had counted on was the way Muleki Nkala would play. Still only 19, he played with the maturity and expertise of a veteran and saw us home.

Although very young, he has a mature head on his shoulders and should develop into a valuable asset for Zimbabwe.

Henry Olonga hit the winning runs for us to scrape home by one wicket.

I have talked about the enthusiasm and fanatacism of the Indian supporters and no more so than in the one-day arena. The atmosphere in these games has been amazing. The decible level is so high that shouting to the person closest to you is the order of the day.

Travelling has been another eye-opener with thousands of supporters waiting at airports and shouting and screaming and pushing when we walk through to get on our bus. In Bhabaneshwar it was actually quite scary with supporters breaking through the police lines and running and jumping all over us. Luckily order was restored quickly but it was quite unnerving.