SPECIALS – Zimbabwe’s finest ODI wins

   Zimbabwe were as good as any team in one-day international cricket until the crisis of 2003, when several players including Andy Flower and Henry Olonga protested against the Mugabe regime in the country. This had a great effect on the team’s cricketing fortunes and in a flash, most of the top players resigned, giving way to a weak outfit. Zimbabwean cricket has not been the same since then, and they were kept out of Test cricket from 2005 to 2011. Here, we look back at five of Zimbabwe’s finest one-day victories, in chronological order:-

1) Beat Australia by 9 runs, Trent Bridge 1983

   This was Zimbabwe’s very first one-day international, and they celebrated the moment with an astonishing upset win over Australia. Both teams were playing their opening World Cup encounter, and it was captain Duncan Fletcher (who later coached England and is currently coaching India) who starred with both bat and ball to shock the Aussies. First Fletcher cracked an unbeaten 69 off 84 balls, putting on 70 for the 6th wicket with Kevin Curran and an unbroken 75 for the 7th with Iain Butchart to help Zimbabwe post 239/6 in 60 overs after being 94/5. Later he took 4/42 as Australia were restricted to 226/7. A few days later, Zimbabwe had India reeling at 17/5 before Kapil Dev’s fabled 175 robbed them of another upset victory.

  Duncan Fletcher steps up to collect his Man of the Match award after helping Zimbabwe stun Australia in their very first ODI (source – espncricinfo.com)

2) Beat England by 9 runs, Albury 1991-92

   This was Zimbabwe’s third World Cup, and they managed to score an upset win over eventual runners-up England – a win which paved the way for their Test status a year later. Zimbabwe looked down and out as England bowled them out for only 134 after electing to field. Captain Dave Houghton top-scored with 29. However, Eddo Brandes, chicken farmer by profession, responded with a stunning spell of seam bowling to reduce England to 43/5. A stand of 52 for the 6th wicket between Neil Fairbrother and Alec Stewart made England favourites again, but with the overs ticking away, England lost their last 5 for 30 runs, getting bundled out for 125 with 5 balls to spare. Brandes, who finished with 10-4-21-4, was named Man of the Match. 

3) Beat England by 131 runs, Harare 1996-97

      England’s tormentor Eddo Brandes compltes the hat-trick as Zimbabwe crushed the Poms by 131 runs in 1996-97 (source – theguardian.com)

   Coming into this match, Zimbabwe had already scored their maiden series win in a bilateral series – courtesy two narrow wins by 2 wickets and 7 runs in the first two games of this 3-match series. However in this final game, Zimbabwe were absolutely clinical in condemning England to one of their most embarrassing defeats. After being put in to bat, the hosts made 249/7 with Alistair Campbell (80*) and Grant Flower (62) being the top-scorers. Then it was that man Brandes again, as he mopped off the top five of England’s line-up, including a hat-trick, on his way to figures of 5/28. 13/3 became 54/5 and then 77/8, before England somehow crossed the hundred run-mark to finally fold for 118 in 30 overs. Zimbabwe had truly become a strong one-day international team now.

4) Beat India by 1 wicket, Faridabad 2001-02

   Douglas Marillier’s famous ‘Marillier Scoop’ ensured an unbelievable win for Zimbabwe in this first ODI of the 5-match series in India. After half-centuries from VVS Laxman and Saurav Ganguly helped India reach a solid 274/6, Zimbabwe were in trouble at 21/2. Campbell and Andy Flower steadied the ship with a 111 run stand for the 3rd wicket before the latter departed for 71. Zimbabwe were in the hunt at 186/3, but then they lost 5/24, including Campbell for 84, to be 210/8 with 65 needed from 34 balls. Enter Marillier, who began to wield his willow, repeatedly stepping across and hitting the ball over the keeper’s head. With 49 to win off 24, Marillier collected 21 in an over from Sanjay Bangar. The 9th wicket went with 22 to win off 14, but it was not a problem for Marillier, who ended with 56* off 30 balls with 10 fours and a six to lead his side to a 1-wicket win with 2 balls to spare.

 Douglas Marillier scoops on his way to achieving a remarkable 1-wicket win for Zimbabwe over India in 2001-02

5) Beat New Zealand by 1 wicket, Bulawayo 2011-12

   Post 2004, victories for Zimbabwe have been few and far between, except against the Associates. In this context, this win last season must surely serve as a breath of fresh air. Zimbabwe had lost the first two of this 3-match series and looked set for a whitewash when the Kiwis racked up 328/5, with Ross Taylor (119) and Kane Williamson (100*) adding 195 for the 5th wicket. Zimbabwe were then 0/1, before Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor put on 100 for the 2nd wicket. Taylor made 75 while Tatenda Taibu chipped in with 53, but at 183/5, New Zealand were on top. Malcolm Waller and Elton Chigumbura (47) then put on a match-winning 112 for the 6th wicket. There were a few jitters at the end, but Waller stayed on, making 99* to lead his team to victory with a ball to spare.

   A few notable omissions from this short list include the wins over India and South Africa in the 1999 World Cup by 3 runs and 48 runs respectively, and the 47 run win over West Indies at Sydney in 2000-01, where the latter were bowled out for 91.

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IN FOCUS – Ranji Trophy 2012-13 preview

   The 79th edition of the Ranji Trophy is set to commence on 2nd November with the first round of matches. Rajasthan are the holders, having won the last two titles convincingly when few expected them to. This season holds great importance for Indian cricket, as the Test team is undergoing a transition phase following the retirements of stalwarts Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman (who will be captaining Hyderabad), and another legend Sachin Tendulkar being at the fag end of his career. Furthermore, India’s abysmal Test performances in the last season have increased the clamour for new faces in the squad – and the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy might just unearth a few players who can go on to represent the country with success.

  Rajasthan won the Ranji Trophy last season, for the second time in a row

 THE FORMAT

    The Ranji Trophy has done away with the system of Elite and Plate divisions. Instead, the format has been considerably tweaked and three groups of nine teams each have been formed. Groups A and B consist of the stronger teams, while Group C has the weaker teams. Three teams each from Groups A and B, and two from Group C will gain entry into the quarterfinals. 

 THE TEAMS

Group A – Rajasthan, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Saurashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Railways, Bengal, Punjab, Gujarat

Group B – Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Vidarbha, Delhi, Baroda, Odisha

Group C – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Services, Tripura, Goa, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam

                  Sachin Tendulkar will be back in Ranji mode after four years

  WHY THE COMING SEASON HOLDS SIGNIFICANCE 

   Since the last few years, the Ranji Trophy has been continuously neglected by the powers-that-be, who instead focus on the glamour and riches of the IPL. Placid wickets, lack of incentives, empty stadiums – the Ranji Trophy has been treated shabbily in spite of being the country’s oldest and most prestigious domestic tournament. However, India’s nightmares in England and Australia last season have brought to the fore the importance of the domestic grind. With these same teams now scheduled to visit India this season for four Tests each, almost all of the international players have made themselves available at least for the first round of the season in order to fine-tune their game. Tendulkar, who is going through a bad patch, will turn out for Mumbai in the first round – after 4 years, and so will Zaheer Khan, who also has been off-colour for quite some time now.

   The opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag has not clicked for a while, and the No.6 position has still not found a permanent occupant since Saurav Ganguly retired in 2008-09. Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina are expected to fight it out for that spot. But the biggest concern has to be the pace attack – Zaheer has been off-colour, and except for Umesh Yadav, no one has impressed. Ishant Sharma’s overall record is nothing to write home about, Varun Aaron keeps getting injured, while erstwhile hopefuls RP Singh and S Sreesanth are nowhere in the picture. The time is ripe to blood some new quick bowlers, if India are to take 20 wickets in a Test overseas regularly.  

  PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR BY INDIAN SELECTORS

  Chesteshwar Pujara’s rise from a domestic run-machine for Saurashtra into the first choice No.3 in the Indian Test team is the best example of a player reaping the rewards of a successful first-class record. Besides Pujara, players like Ajinkya Rahane and Varun Aaron have also been in the reckoning, athough  a crowded top-order and injuries respectively have kept them out of the Indian team. Every year, quite a few players make an impact, but most of the times they have been ignored because of the selectors’ reluctance to try out new faces ahead of reputations. Here are four players to watch out for this season by India’s selectors –

     The in-form Ashok Dinda will be a front-runner to win a India cap this season (source – indiatimes.com)

 1) Robin Bist (Rajasthan)

    The 25 year-old right-hand batsman averages almost 52 in 42 first-class matches so far, and was a player to be looked forward to last year as well. He did not dissapoint – logging more than 1000 runs to play a crucial part in Rajasthan’s second successive triumph. Expect him to score big again, and the selectors would do well to keep a keen eye on him.

2) Unmukt Chand (Delhi)

    Fresh fro leading the U-19 Indian team to World Cup victory, Chand was only 17 when he made his first-class debut, and averages a decent 41 with the bat. This will be the season where he can grow into an even better batsman as Delhi look to win the title after 5 years.

3) Ashok Dinda (Bengal)

    A consistent performer for quite some time, Dinda is the front-runner to gain a place in the Test team. He further staked his claim by bagging 7/26 for East Zone in a Duleep Trophy match recently. He should make his Test debut this season if he continues to bowl in this manner.

4) Mandeep Singh (Punjab)

   At just 20 years of age, Mandeep has been named Punjab’s vice-captain, deputy to Harbhajan Singh. And he can bat big – an excellent average of 61 in 16 first-class games so far. With a few batting spots in the Indian team being wobbly, a good showing by this young lad will go a long way in making him a strong contender.

 PREDICTIONS

   My quarterfinal line-up would include defending champions Rajasthan, Mumbai and Punjab from Group A, Delhi, Baroda and Uttar Pradesh from Group B, and Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh from Group C. It would be too early to predict anything beyond that.

VIEWPOINT – A farce called the two-Test series

    There are few things in the world which are more ridiculous than a Test series comprising of two matches. Come to think of it – just two matches to decide a series winner, and more often than not this farce is compounded by adding a totally meaningless 5-match or worse, 7-match one-day series. The very meaning of a proper Test series is lost whenever a two-Test series is scheduled. 

   Yet unfortunately, we see a great number of Test tours being reduced to  tepid two-match affairs nowadays. And a true cricket fan will tell you, that it is just not enough – two matches cannot satisfy the palate of the connoisseur. The 2011-12 season, which featured some exciting Test matches, had three important series which were reduced to two Tests each. Firstly, Australia went to South Africa to play two Tests – expectedly, the third Test was scrapped to acomodate  an irrelevant T20 series. The series ended 1-1, and no one will ever know which team was more deserving of a series win – would South Africa have finally won a home series against Australia? Sadly, it will remain a mystery. Secondly, the series between hosts Australia and New Zealand ended in a 1-1 draw after the Kiwis snatched a thrilling win to level the series. That was about it, there was no third Test and one will never find out whether New Zealand would have completed a historic series win or not. Towards the end of the season, England drew 1-1 in Sri Lanka, again in a 2-Test series.

   The Trans-Tasman Trophy of 2011-12 was reduced to a tepid two-Test series

     I do not know what the administrators think while scheduling a two-Test series – since both players and fans alike can hardly derive any satisfaction from it. A Test series should comprise a minimum of three Test matches, whether it is South Africa v India or Bangladesh v Zimbabwe. And I personally feel that series between the following nations should comprise at least four Test matches – 1) Australia v England, 2) Australia v South Africa, 3) Australia v West Indies, 4) Australia v India, 5) England v South Africa, 6) England v West Indies, 7) England v India and 8) India v Pakistan. Alas, except for the Ashes,(which thankfully is a 5 Test affair, always), we have had instances of two-Test series for most of the above mentioned match-ups in the last few years.

  England, South Africa and Australia all played two-Test series in India in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively. Series between Australia and West Indies – the historic Frank Worrell Trophy- which used to have 5 Tests, have gradually been reduced to no more than 3 Tests, and I fear a further reduction will indeed be a tragedy. The recent 3-Test  ‘championship duel’ between England and South Africa was criticised rightly by many for being too short – after all until 2009-10, at least a 4-Test series was a norm between the two countries. Instead, a 5-match ODI series and a 3-match T20 series were squeezed in. What a waste, indeed.

    Teams hosting New Zealand have now almost made a rule to have only two Tests in the series. The Black Caps’ last visits to Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, Australia and West Indies all have been two-Test affairs. And they are now scheduled to visit Sri Lanka for a two-Test series again. Thankfully, England’s visit to New Zealand later this season comprises of three Tests, but you never know when a T20 is squeezed in instead of a Test, for the sake of getting more crowds (i.e, people who come for entertainment, and not sport).

      India scored a tense win to level the home series, which only had 2 Tests, against South Africa in 2009-10; a potential decider was nipped in the bud (source – espncricinfo.com)

    It is tragic that series are being culled or even cancelled to make room for limited overs matches or the myriad T20 leagues. Whereas the truth is, any limited overs contest before or after a Test series is just desserts. For instance, in England this summer, two competitive Test series against West Indies and South Africa were followed by one-day series which even the players looked like not taking it seriously. Further, the ICC Future Tours Programme is nothing but a joke, as the Indian board calls the shots most of the times (more on that in a later post) to manipulate the itinerary to suit its selfish needs. 

   On a positive note, India host both England and Australia for 4-Test series this season while Pakistan (who seem to be playing very less Test cricket in spite of a very talented team) go to South Africa for 3 Tests. Also, Australia host both South Africa and Sri Lanka for 3-Test series. Let us look forward to a great season of Test cricket after an excruciatingly long overdose of T20. And let us hope that those involved in the scheduling of future Test tours throw the farcial idea of a two-Test series out of the window – although it is very unlikely to happen. 

VIEWPOINT – No reason for England to complain

    The build up to the much awaited Test series between India and England has garnered further momentum, following an interesting decision by the new Indian selection committee, led by Sandeep Patil – that of not including even one specialist spinner in the India ‘A’ squad, which is scheduled to play Alastair Cook’s England team in Mumbai from October 30.

   This decision has created a reasonable bit of controversy, as was expected. The England batting line-up can be safely termed as one of the most poor when it comes to playing spin bowling. Their struggles against the tweakers plunged to abysmal depths early this year, when they were whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in the Gulf – having absolutely no clue to tackle Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman. The highs of being the best team in the world seemed a mirage as their much vaunted top order were ground to the dust in the desert. No wonder then, for the Indian tour, England have lined up three warm-up matches before the first Test begins in Ahmedabad. They would have certainly expected to master the conditions while playing few of India’s second-string spinners.

   But Patil’s committee have aimed at clipping the English wings even before they can attempt to fly. The only spinners in the India ‘A’ squad are part timers Suresh Raina (also the captain) and Yuvraj Singh. Which means, instead of preparing for the Tests by facing a lot of spin, which they obviously anticipated, England will start the tour by padding up against the pace of Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda and Vinay Kumar. The likes of David Lloyd and Michael Vaughan were quick to attack this selection, and accused India of lacking sportsmanship and the decision of being ‘against the spirit of the game’.

          England face the dual threat of Ashwin and Ojha on turning Indian wickets (source – firstpost.com)

    That India are looking for ‘revenge’ after being pummeled 4-0 in England in 2011 is a well-known fact. Which means they will go to any lengths to deny England an opportunity to settle down and get used to the conditions. Rank turners can be almost definitely expected for all four Tests at Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagpur. Many times after India lost eight successive Tests abroad (4 each in England and Australia) last season, there have been pleas from the Indian captain and players to prepare spinning wickets at home, so that the ‘home advantage’ is not lost. All these decisions and requests are certainly justified – after all India is not doing anything which is against the Laws of Cricket. Selecting a team for a warm up match is upto the selection committee  and England are supposed to play against whichever team they are scheduled to without any excuses. And if England were expecting dollops of generosity from India on this tour, they were highly mistaken.

   Patil’s decision can be seen as a shrewd one on the look of it, but it can certainly have its side-effects. By not allowing England to play against a specialist spinner before the first Test, the committee might just improve England’s confidence instead of denting it. As skipper Cook said, there are plenty of spinners in the net sessions. Plus, if they play the pacemen comfortably in the warm-up, England will have more self-belief come the Test series. Whereas had they had to face a spinner in the warm-up and struggle against him, it would have led to a loss of confidence before facing Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha – who have been in superb form in the past few home Tests. 

    England’s batsmen had a torrid time against the Pakistani spinners in the UAE earlier this year (source – dawn.com)

     Whichever way you look at it, England have no reason to whine of this decision. India’s in-form young batsman Virat Kohli recently said that it would not be unfair to prepare turners in the Test series, citing the example of England preparing flat wickets in the warm-ups during the 2011 series, only to dish out seaming tracks for the Test series (though it was India’s pathetic collective showing that did them in). Home advantage has always been an important factor, and it will remain to be so. That is what makes Test cricket a challenging task – playing in different conditions and winning against the odds. England are embarking upon India with a view to win a series there after 28 years, and they certainly have to work hard for it. Whether or not a spinner is there in the warm up squad is not an issue, for there might be bigger ‘Tests’ in store for them. 

Famous Test Matches – England v India, The Oval, 1979

  As far as drawn Test matches go, this final Test of the four-match series between England and India, played from August 30 to September 4, 1979, sits right up there in terms of excitement. 

  England were leading 1-0 after three Tests thanks to a thumping innings win in the first Test. India, needing nothing less than a victory to level the series, fell agonisingly short of achieving a stunning win.

  English captain Mike Brearley won the toss and decided to bat, but his side was soon in trouble at 51/3. This included the loss of Geoffrey Boycott and David Gower in successive deliveries, both leg-before to Kapil Dev.

  Peter Willey (52), playing after three years, joined Graham Gooch and the duo put on 97 for the fourth wicket before Gooch added a further 55 with Ian Botham for the fifth as the hosts ended Day 1 at 245/5. Gooch was out in the very first over on day two after making 79. England eventually ended at 305, with Kapil and Srinivas Venkataraghavan picking three wickets apiece.

  India started disastrously, losing Chetan Chauhan and Dilip Vengsarkar to become 9/2. Both the batsmen were caught splendidly by Botham in the slips off Bob Willis. Sunil Gavaskar followed soon, out for 13 to make the score 47/3.

  Gundappa Viswanath anchored the innings but could not steer India to safety. He was out for 62 towards the end of the day, which ended early due to bad light with India in an unsteady position at 137/5.

             England’s second innings was built around a solid 125 from Geoffrey Boycott

  Apart from Yajurvindra Singh, who remained unbeaten on 43, the rest of the Indians offered no resistance as they folded for 202, thus trailing by 103. The pacemen took all the wickets, with Botham being the pick with 4/65 to go with his two catches. Willis and Mike Hendrick took three wickets each.

  England ended the third day at 177/3 in their second innings, leading comfortably by 280 and Boycott being unbeaten on 83. THe hosts piled on the runs on day four, with the seventh-wicket stand of 76 between Boycott and debutant wicketkeeper David Bairstow frustrating the Indians the most.

  Boycott was out for a  typically obdurate seven-hour 125 while Bairstow made 59. The latter’s dismissal was the last ball of the innings as England declared at 334/8. India, set a mighty 438 in 500 minutes to level the series, trotted along to 76/0 at stumps with a day to go.

  The Indian openers Chauhan and Gavaskar did not seem to be looking to hunt down the total as they went about for less than 50 runs an hour for the first three hours. However, their partnership had grown into a record 213 when Chauhan was finally dismissed for 80, having batted for 314 minutes.

  Vengsarkar joined his Mumbai teammate Gavaskar, and the scoring pace stepped up a bit. Gavaskar was the dominating partner, going for most of the shots. With England desperate for wickets and trying to slow down the proceedings, India had no option but to attack if they wanted to win the Test.

  At tea on the final day, the score was 304/1. India began the final session well and with the last 20 overs to go, needed only 110 runs more with nine wickets still intact. Botham dropped Vengsarkar (52) at 365/1, but came back strongly to catch him off Phil Edmonds a run later.

  Captain Venkataraghavan then promoted the hard-hitting Kapil ahead of the experienced Viswanath, but he immediately got out for a duck. India were now 367/3. Gavaskar, still there and still batting beautifully, added 22 with Yashpal Sharma before Botham returned to the attack with eight overs left and India requiring 49 to win.

     Little Master Gavaskar flicks one en route to his epic knock of 221 at the Oval (source – espncricinfo.com)

  Brearley, having slowed down the over rate, now called for a drinks break. Thus the concentration was disturbed and after eight hours and nine minutes, Gavaskar perished for a glorious 221, holing out to Gower.

  The great batsman faced 443 balls and collected 21 fours in a chanceless innings, one of the finest ever to be played on English soil. It also broke the record for the highest score by an Indian against England, beating Nawab of Pataudi Junior’s 203 made at Delhi in 1964-65. 

  With their anchor-man gone, India lost momentum. Brearley’s shrewd tactics paid off as Botham collected two more wickets while Willey accounted for Viswanath. It was all down to 15 runs needed off the last over with two wickets in hand, but it was too tall a mountain to climb.

  India ended at 429/8 (then the fourth highest fourth-innings total), a mere nine runs short of what would have been the highest ever successful run chase to this day. The match was drawn and England – just – took the series 1-0. Botham finished with 3/97, including a most crucial haul of 3/17 in his last four overs.     

  Gavaskar was rightly named man of the match for his memorable and technically flawless double-century while Botham was named man of the series. Gavaskar scored 542 runs in the series at an average of 77.42, but his efforts were not enough to prevent India from a series defeat. 

Match Scorecard – http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63240.html

GUEST SECTION – The road ahead for Champions League T20

Many teams face ‘unknown factor’ like Auckland Aces

Champions League T20 has not got much following for several reasons but if properly managed it can become a great tournament and can promote youth talent.
Here are the problems which the league is facing:

UNKNOWN FACES The biggest problem is the ‘unknown teams’ factor. Organizers tried to settle it by throwing in a qualifying stage and increasing number of ‘known teams’ compared to the unknown. With many countries adopting franchise system and having lot of foreign players in, the unknown factor will drop in coming years. 

THE VENUE Champions League T20 has been hosted either in India or South Africa. Hosting in other places might spread its popularity but the problem is the timings and it will reduce the viewership. October may be too late to host in England while Australia’s timings could be good but risky. The organizers should try hosting in other areas – Sri Lanka, Australia, etc to broaden interest  or even try newer markets like Malaysia.

UNIFORMITY Every season of the league has seen a bit of change of rules. Format has remained the same but others including no of teams and specially no of teams per country has changed. Right now it looks to be an Indian-dominated event with 4 entries, but it can change in future and be more balanced.

FOREIGN PLAYER RULE The biggest worry which is unique to this league is the foreign player rule. Right now, it’s titled towards IPL teams but as more countries go towards franchise system, it could get solved out in future. There is need for modification as players have no problem choosing the IPL side over their home side. 

THE BOTTOM LINE The tournament might not get the importance and popularity, but over the years it can become the most important club tournament in the world. Improvements are needed and more attention from boards around the world.

Famous Test Matches – West Indies v India, Bridgetown, 1996-97

  This Test was the only one in the five-match series to end with a result. The West Indies had lost quite a bit of their aura of their golden period, but were nevertheless a strong force to reckon with, especially at home. India meanwhile were again looking to shed their ‘poor travellers’ tag, having being resoundingly beaten in South Africa a few months back.

  At the behest of the captains, a grassy wicket was prepared for this third Test – played from March 27-31, 1997 at Bridgetown’s Kensington Oval – following featherbeds in the first two Tests. Unsurprisingly, both sides were packed with pace bowlers. India, led by a 23-year-old Sachin Tendulkar, elected to field after winning the toss.

  Shivnarine Chanderpaul played a masterclass – a kind of innings he would repeat many times in his career. He remained unbeaten on 137 off 284 balls with 12 fours, ensuring that the hosts posted 298 after being a dodgy 131/5, and shared in stands of 56 for the sixth wicket with Courtney Browne and more importantly, 65 with Curtly Ambrose for the eighth wicket.

  Chanderpaul reached his century towards the end of the first day, reaching 102* with the West Indies 240/7 at stumps. Venkatesh Prasad was the pick of the Indian bowlers, finishing with 5/82 and ending the home side’s innings by trapping Mervyn Dillon leg-before for nought.

                Shivnarine Chanderpaul made an outstanding 137* in the first innings

  India then marched on to a position of relative strength, reaching 249/3 by the end of day two. After losing openers VVS Laxman and Navjot Sidhu early, the visitors rode on a 170-run partnership for the third wicket between Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.

  Tendulkar was out for 92, caught at gully off what was later found to be a no-ball by Ian Bishop, while Dravid was also dismissed by Bishop, early on day three for 78. Following Dravid’s dismissal, India squandered their advantage and lost 6/46 to be bowled out for 319, the lead being only 21 runs. Franklyn Rose, who debuted early in this series, took 4/77.

   However, the slender lead was looking sufficient when India had the hosts on the mat at 95/8 in their second innings – with all three pacemen – Prasad, Abey Kuruvilla and Dodda Ganesh – making life difficult for the batsmen. Captain Brian Lara cracked a counter-attacking 45, but it was too good to last, as he fell to Prasad to make the score 86/5, which became 95/8 and later 107/9.

  Last man Dillon joined Ambrose (18*) in the middle, and the duo frustrated India with a stand of 33 before Dillon was bowled by Kuruvilla (who took 5/68, including the last four wickets) for a 17-ball 21. This stand, which would turn out to be the most crucial one in the Test, enabled the Windies to reach 140, and India required 120 to win their first Test in the Caribbean since 1975-76.

  India, overnight 2/0, soon became 3/1 early on day four when Sidhu was caught in the slips off Rose. Rose used the pitch to its maximum, extracting pace and bounce to claim Laxman and Dravid as well to make it 32/3.

           Venkatesh Prasad’s match haul of 8/121 was undone by his team’s batsmen (source – tribuneindia.com)

  Bishop and Ambrose too joined the party, with the former getting Tendulkar out (32/4) and the latter nailing Sourav Ganguly and Mohammed Azharuddin to reduce India to an abysmal 51/6; the visitors still needing 69 to win with their top six all back in the hut.

  The West Indians were charged up and there was no looking back for them. Buoyed by the delirious Barbadian crowd, they proceeded to take the remaining four wickets comfortably – shooting India out for a paltry 81 in 35.5 overs. No one except Laxman (19) reached double figures.

  Bishop (4/22), Rose (3/19) and Ambrose (3/36) all combined to destroy India’s batting and condemn them to an embarrassing 38-run loss. Lara, who captained in place of the injured regular captain Courtney Walsh for this Test, became the sixth West Indian to win his first Test as captain.

  In this battle of tall pacemen, there were ultimately batting feats that made the difference – Chanderpaul’s one-man show in the first innings (for which he was named man of the match) and the priceless last-wicket stand worth 33 runs in the second innings between Ambrose and Dillon.

  The West Indies eventually won the series 1-0, while India let go a golden chance of winning a series abroad, this time snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Match Scorecard