Zimbabwe v India 2001
At Harare, June 15, 16, 17, 18
At Harare, June 15, 16, 17, 18. Zimbabwe won by four wickets. Toss: India. Test debuts: T. J. Friend; H. K. Badani.
India lost their chance of a rare overseas series win when they emulated Zimbabwe's mistake in the previous Test: they threw away the advantage of the toss, and eventually the match itself, by a poor first innings. Conditions looked better for batting first than they had for some time at Harare Sports Club, but the Indian batsmen failed to exploit them, wasting their opportunity with too many undisciplined strokes. Ultimately, their team paid the penalty in a thrilling match of constant fluctuations.
Das and Dravid stood out amid the ruins against a Zimbabwe attack that was weakened when Watambwa limped off with a hamstring injury in the seventh over of the match. Streak's persistence was rewarded as the Indian middle order imploded after lunch, when five wickets fell for 87 runs before Dravid and Harbhajan Singh staged a rally with 56 for the eighth wicket. Nehra's three quick wickets in the 11 overs to the close left India marginally ahead on points, but Zimbabwe's remaining batsmen recovered admirably on the second day, despite the tendency to lose their wickets when on the verge of greater things. Grant Flower, in his 50th Test, was the only batsman to reach fifty, brother Andy for once falling five short, against spirited bowling and fielding from India. When Grant was last out on the third morning, the home lead was only 78.
India then appeared to be fighting their way out of trouble against bowlers assuming a defensive line outside off stump. Das reached his third consecutive fifty and Tendulkar made amends for the first innings with a composed 69 while they added 118 for the third wicket. The turning-point came when Zimbabwe took the new ball one over before the close and Blignaut had Dravid caught at the wicket. They followed up next morning by grabbing the next four wickets for ten runs in six overs. The inexperienced Badani, making his debut, held out for 82 minutes but was unable to galvanise runs from the tail. Blignaut's fifth wicket left Zimbabwe needing 157 to win.
It was no simple task: only once before had they successfully chased a target in a Test against a more senior team, when they scored 162 for three to beat Pakistan at Peshawar in 1998-99. To make it more difficult, Andy Flower had sustained a serious thumb injury keeping wicket that morning, which was to put him out for two months. In the circumstances, Carlisle played one of the finest and most valuable innings of Zimbabwe's Test history, batting virtually without flaw for more than three hours to hold the innings together with an unbeaten 62, his highest Test score. None of his partners could exceed 20. Finally, Andy Flower came in and hit two fours to snatch the series from India and bring Zimbabwe their sixth Test victory in 52 matches.
The match had commenced with a minute's silence in memory of Zimbabwe's recent Test batsman, Trevor Madondo, who had died of cerebral malaria only four days beforehand. The Zimbabwean team played in black armbands and, at the post-match ceremony, Streak dedicated his team's victory to Madondo.
Man of the Match: A. M. Blignaut. Man of the Series: S. S. Das.