Zimbabwe v India, 2nd Test, Harare, 3rd day September 22, 2005

Pathan stars in series win

India 366 (Gambhir 97, Dravid 98, Streak 6-73) and 20 for 0 beat Zimbabwe 161 (Pathan 7-59) and 223 (Masakadza 71, Blignaut 84*, Pathan 5-67, Zaheer 4-58) by 10 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Zaheer Khan turned in a fiery spell as India sealed a convincing win at Harare © Getty Images

Two contrasting half-centuries and a shambolic catching display helped Zimbabwe avoid an innings defeat, for the first time in six Tests. Irfan Pathan fittingly put an abrupt end to the spirited counterattack, with a haul of five wickets, and helped India seal a convincing ten-wicket victory on the third day at Harare. Pathan, who struck back after being carted around in the first session, finished with a staggering 21 victims in the series, along with the Man-of-the-Series award, and equalled the record for the most wickets by a bowler in a two-Test rubber.

However, Zimbabwe didn't go down before enjoying their most dominant session of the series. Andy Blignaut led a thundering assault, when 151 runs were clattered in 28 overs amid four grassed chances behind the wicket, and along with Hamilton Masakadza, who produced a classy 73, erased a large part of the imposing deficit. But it took just ten overs after lunch for Pathan and co to engineer a collapse and leave the openers to score a meagre 19 in their second innings, to complete their first series win outside the subcontinent since 1986. Virender Sehwag finished it all on a ferocious note.

India had a good start to the day when Zaheer Khan produced a peach of a cutter to open up Heath Streak and get him edging to the slips but the bowlers were soon knocked off their rhythm when Charles Coventry, Blignaut and Masakadza swung their bats with carefree abandon. Coventry lashed a few audacious drives early on - including three fours off Pathan in one over - and set the tone for the rest of the session.

Coventry couldn't sustain his ambitious methods - chipping an easy catch to short midwicket - but Blignaut and Masakadza didn't let up on the momentum. Their 115-run partnership contained some crunched cover-drives, booming lofted straight-drives and flashed cuts and left India completely bereft of ideas. While Blignaut fired away, Masakadza's was a classy, composed at the other end. He didn't hold back against the loose offerings and creamed a few delightful fours through the covers.

Blignaut, at the other end, appeared to be trying his hand at roulette for most part. When on 16, he survived a hat-trick of sorts when he flashed at three deliveries from Zaheer, edged thrice and saw fielders behind the stumps grass all. Dhiraj Jadhav, the substitute, hasn't had much to do through this series and when offered a regulation waist-high chance, he muffed it. The next ball was like an action replay and Sehwag duly obliged by letting it through his fingers. The third flew to first slip but just as it was nestling into Rahul Dravid's palms, Dinesh Karthik threw himself across and floored one more. Zaheer was in the midst of his best spell of the series and his bemused look told a tale of its own.

Blignaut, who offered two more chances after lunch, rubbed it in with some power-packed strokeplay - including a sensational straight six off Kumble that soared over long-on and cleared the stands - but he was left stranded on 71 as wickets crumbled at the other end. Pathan shot out Masakadza with a curving indipper, which would have probably gone on to miss leg stump, and Keith Dabengwa dangled his bat at one that cut away. Blessing Mahwire and Waddington Mwayenga were trapped in front when they played back to full deliveries and, as has happened so often in this series, all of Zimbabwe's good work was washed away in the space of a few minutes.

While Zimbabwe will take out a few positives from these two Tests, most of India will remember it for the dressing-room drama during the first Test. India might have erased a tiny statistical blot in their overseas record but, with several cracks exposed and most of the spotlight shifting to the board elections in Kolkata, the triumph may not be received with too much champagne popping.

How they were out

Heath Streak c Laxman b Zaheer 8 (42 for 5)
Squared up by a beauty that seamed away

Charles Coventry c Ganguly b Pathan 25 (85 for 6)
Flicked a slower ball straight to mid-on

Hamilton Masakadza lbw b Pathan 71 (201 for 7)
Beaten by a full curving dipper

Keith Dabengwa c Karthik b Pathan 0 (201 for 8)
Fished at a cutter that moved away

Blessing Mahwire lbw b Kumble 0 (202 for 9)
Played back to a straighter one

Waddington Mwayenga lbw b Zaheer 1 (223)
Trapped in front by a straighter one

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo