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September 22, 2005
Irfan Pathan's wonderful bowling, in which he took 21 wickets for India in their two-Test series against Zimbabwe, earned him the Man-of-the-Match award, as well as man of the series. India earlier completed a comprehensive 10-wicket victory over Zimbabwe, with Pathan taking 12 wickets in the match.
The previous 21-wicket takers in a two-Test series were Anil Kumble for India, and Johnny Briggs for England. "It's good to know about the record," Pathan told reporters after the game. "I'm just pleased to be playing my best cricket at the moment. My bowling has come on so well recently. It has been a wonderful series for me."
Zimbabwe could only reach 223 in their second innings, leaving India a paltry 19 runs to seal victory. After the victory, Sourav Ganguly spoke to reporters: "I'm naturally pleased to win the series, but the ODI series (won by New Zealand) was certainly a disappointment," he said.
However, Pathan conceded his side hadn't been on top of their game, despite the crushing margin of victory. "We bowled poorly and fielded not too well today but these things happen," he added. "I [will] leave it to the press to talk negatively about these things. They happen."
Andy Blignaut did at least provide the home supporters with something to cheer about, blasting a breezy 84 not out from 93 balls: he arrived at the crease with Zimbabwe wobbling on 85 for 6. He was fortunate, though: India dropped five catches during his innings, but that isn't to detract from the invaluable 116-run partnership he put on for the seventh wicket with Hamilton Mazakadsa, who eventually fell lbw to Pathan for 71.
Commenting on the state of cricket in Zimbabwe, Ganguly mentioned several positives the Zimbabweans can take out of the series, but highlighted consistency as a key factor of their lack of success.
"There are signs of improvement in the present Zimbabwe side," Ganguly said. "They just need people to stand up and come through. They can bat and also bowl, but perhaps not consistently. They quite clearly are missing the likes of Andy Flower and Grant Flower and others - including Ray Price."
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's new coach, Kevin Curran, was less than happy with the umpiring, and considered his side grossly unfortunate with some of the decisions made by the two umpires. "Some of the umpiring has not been acceptable," he said. "The lesser countries seem to get poor decisions all the time. If our top players get given out from bad balls it doesn't help our cause.
He highlighted the dismissal of Brendan Taylor, adding "[Taylor's wicket] was not acceptable. And you all saw the replay."
"This has been happening to us for a long time. Heath Streak and others simply don't get the rub of the green. If [those decisions] had gone our way it would have made a different impact on the game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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