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Match reports

India v Zimbabwe 2000-01

At Nagpur, November 25, 26, 27, 28, 29

15-Apr-2002
At Nagpur, November 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. Drawn. Toss: India. Test debut: Sarandeep Singh.
The bandwagon moved southwards to the orange groves of Nagpur, hosting its first Test in three years. The match was poorly attended, with headlines dominated by local political demands for autonomy, the Indian board's hearings into match-fixing, and gossip about captain Ganguly's fling with voluptuous actress Nagma. On the field, however, there was a feast of runs. Six batsmen ran up centuries, culminating in Andy Flower's undefeated 232, the highest Test score by a wicket-keeper, which foiled India's expectations of a series whitewash. Forced to follow on, Flower and his team-mates displayed great grit and poise as they camped at the crease to erase an unnecessarily tall home total of 609, a ground record. For nearly two days, the Indians laboured on a placid track.
Having claimed first use of the pitch, India might have driven the last nail in Zimbabwe's coffin had they not delayed their declaration until ten overs after tea on the second day, waiting for Tendulkar to complete his second double-century in Tests. Over-cautious batting had slowed them down when aggression was the need of the hour. Tendulkar's innings lasted 392 minutes and 281 balls, included 27 fours, and was the highlight of India's mammoth total, which was set on its way by opener Das's maiden century, in his third Test. In between, Dravid took his series aggregate to 432 before he was finally dismissed; he added 155 with Das and 249 with Tendulkar, their second double-century stand of the series and an Indian all-wicket record against Zimbabwe.
The visitors had rethought their batting order, after Rennie and Grant Flower's last five opening partnerships had totalled 12 runs. Flower dropped to No. 6, and Whittall moved up to weather the new ball for only the second time in his Test career. The switch did wonders for both; Whittall notched up a strokeful 84, while Flower followed his king pair at Delhi with a hard-hitting hundred. Zimbabwe began the fourth day on 359 for six, hoping to avoid the follow-on, but the later order lasted just 12 overs - time enough for Flower to complete his century, but leaving them 28 short of making India bat again.
The home side were counting down to victory shortly after lunch, when 21-year-old off-spinner Sarandeep Singh, a newcomer from Punjab, reduced Zimbabwe's second innings to 61 for three, still 166 behind. But the indomitable Andy Flower showed awe-inspiring skill and physical fortitude, remaining unconquered for 544 minutes and 444 balls, to build a career-best 232 laced with 30 fours and two sixes. It was his ninth Test century, and first double. The previous best by a Test wicket-keeper was 210 not out by Taslim Arif for Pakistan against Australia at Faisalabad in 1979-80. Surprisingly, Campbell, who like Flower had played in all of Zimbabwe's 47 Tests, had never previously passed 99, but he put that right now as they added 209 to push their side into the lead. Viljoen, a last-minute fly-in for the injured Paul Strang, then helped Flower put on 113 for the sixth wicket to ensure safety.
Although the result meant the Indians took the series 1-0, Zimbabwe's fighting draw represented a moral defeat for them. Ganguly, who could have become the first Indian captain to win his first three Tests in charge, complained that the Nagpur pitch was fit enough at the conclusion for another five-day match. He had craved turning tracks for the Test matches; instead, his bowlers were committed to grafting on flat batting surfaces.
Man of the Match: A. Flower. Man of the Series: A. Flower.