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Friday, Jan 28, 2022
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Champions Trophy

Kaif To The Fore Again

Picking up the threads from where he left off during the Natwest triumph, Kaif's unbeaten 111 off 112 balls in the company of Dravid paves the way for India's exciting 14-run win over Zimbabwe.

Kaif To The Fore Again
Kaif To The Fore Again
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Mohammad Kaif hit a sparkling maiden century as India started their campaign in the ICC Champions Trophy cricket tournament with an exciting 14-run victory against Zimbabwe at Colombo today.

Kaif's unbeaten 111 off 112 balls pulled India out of deep trouble and helped the side post a healthy 288 for six in the stipulated 50 overs.

In reply, Zimbabwe were restricted to 274 for eight despite a brilliant 145 by Andy Flower, the highest individual one-day score by any Zimbabwean.

The Indians, playing just four days after ending a tiring tour of England, slumped to 87 for five in the 14th over after electing to bat before Rahul Dravid and Kaif staged a brilliant recovery act.

The two put on 117 runs for the sixth wicket at a good pace with Dravid contributing a fine 71 off 81 balls including seven hits to the fence. Dravid was run out while going for a non-existent single but Kaif continued with his beautifully paced innings to register his first one-day international hundred.

For Zimbabwe, Andy Flower waged a lone battle as none of the other batsmen gave him much support. Grant Flower (33) and Guy Whittall (29) stayed for some time to build good partnerships with Andy Flower but they perished at crucial times.

Like India, Zimbabwe too had a bad start with Zaheer Khan removing opener Dion Ebrahim (0) off the fourth ball of the innings. Zaheer, who finished with four for 45, sent back the other batsman Alistair Campbell (8) too in the tenth over before the two Flower brothers stabilised the innings with a 84-run stand for the third wicket.

Andy Flower, who missed at least two stumping chances and one run out of Kaif in a forgettable day behind the wickets, was at his dominating best as he used the trademark sweeps and reverse-sweeps to great effect.

A fine piece of fielding by Yuvraj Singh at point resulted in the run out of Grant Flower and ended the flourishing partnership. After Sachin Tendulkar, who could manage only seven runs earlier in the day, clean bowled Stuart Carlisle for two, Andy Flower built another good partnership with Whittal.

The two added 71 runs for the fifth wicket before Zaheer Khan claimed his third wicket when Whitall edged a delivery to wicketkeeper Dravid at the total of 201.

Even though Andy Flower fought till the very end, the dimissal of Whittal in the 40th over completely derailed the Zimbabwean chase. Douglas Marillier, hero of a famous Zimbabwe win against India at Faridabad earlier this year, managed only 14 runs while Sean Ervine scored seven before becoming Zaheer Khan's fourth victim on the last ball of the innings.

Andy Flower, who improved on his brother's 142 against Bangladesh in Bulawayo last year, himself was out in the penultimate over, caught by Sourav Ganguly off Tendulkar.

Earlier, the Indian top order collapsed in a heap with Douglas Hondo claiming four wickets. Skipper Saurav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag put on 25 runs in the first three overs before Hondo wrecked havoc.

Ganguly (13) and Dinesh Mongia (0) fell in the fourth over at the same score of 25, both caught in the slips by Alistair Campbell. Sachin Tendulkar (7) lasted only 16 balls before he too edged Hondo to Campbell in the tenth over.

Sehwag, meanwhile, played some brilliant strokes and  raced to 48 as the Indians maintained a very healthy run rate  despite the fall of wickets.

Sehwag, who struck eight boundaries in his 36-ball knock, paid the price of getting too ambitious and top-edged a Sean Ervine delivery to Andy Flower with the Indian total on 84.

Three runs later, new batsman Yuvraj Singh (3) was brilliantly caught by a diving Ervine in the slips to give Hondo his fourth wicket. Thereafter started the recovery act by the last recognised batting pair and both Dravid and Kaif looked determined to carry on the form that they showed on the recent tour of England.

It was Dravid who first took the responsibility of keeping the scoreboard moving at a decent rate. Never showing any signs of pressure, the stylish batsman, who was named India's man of the series in the Test series against England in which he scored more than 600 runs, came up with some brilliant shots on the off-side.

Dravid scored at more than run-a-ball for most of his innings, dispatching every bad delivery to the boundary, while Kaif took his time to settle down. All the while the Indian run rate was above six an over, thanks to the cushion provided by Sehwag's blistering knock.

There came a stage when boundaries dried up but the singles and twos were always on which kept India on course for a huge total.

Dravid, who reached his half century off 51 balls with six fours, was however run out when the innings was just about to climax. He started for a short single but realised midway that he would not be able to make it.

However, instead of making a desperate effort to reach the other end, Dravid prayed the direct hit from Stuart Carlisle would miss the stumps. His prayers were not answered and he was found way short of his crease.

On the other hand, Kaif continued to grow in confidence with every run and even though Kumble struggled to get the singles, the youngster kept the scoreboard moving.

He was on 89 when the last two overs started. He hit Ervine to fine leg boundaries off the first two deliveries and then took a two and a single to bring up his maiden one-day century. He hit another couple of fours before the Indian innings ended.

PTI

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