| Sean Irvine of Zimbabwe en route to his century against India at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday. (Reuters)
Adelaide, Jan. 24 (PTI): India just about withstood a stunning counterattack by the Zimbabwe batsmen and pulled off a dramatic three-run victory in a tri-series match on Saturday.
After posting a formidable 280 for seven, built around V.V.S. Laxman’s career-best 131, India stalled Zimbabwe’s push for their first win in the series in the 50th over. The win ensured India a place in the final and snuffed out Zimbabwe’s chances.
Stuart Carlisle and Sean Ervine effected a major turnaround with a century each to take Zimbabwe close to the target. But needing nine from the final over, they ran out of steam to finish at 277 for six.
The last over bowled by Sanjay Bangar had the trappings of a thriller and unlike the previous match where India faltered at the death, the allrounder ensured his team the right result.
Earlier Laxman hammered his second successive century, third of the series, and resurrected the innings after India were reduced to four for three in the fourth over. Rahul Dravid and Rohan Gavaskar provided support with the latter posting his maiden ODI half-century in his fourth match. Laxman, having made 103 and 106 against Australia earlier, faced 138 balls and hit 13 fours and a six.
The Indian total was remarkable as not only were they missing Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, but also Yuvraj Singh, who suffered a side strain while fielding in the previous game against Australia.
Zimbabwe lost three wickets before reaching 50, but the fourth-wicket stand of 202 from 206 balls changed the course of the match. It was Zimbabwe’s best-ever stand for any wicket and against any side. Carlisle and Ervine took the score to 248 for three in the 46th over. They were helped by some inept bowling by the Indians.
But India made up for the unimpressive bowling with some outstanding catches — two by Man of the Match Laxman and another by Lakshmipathy Balaji. The turnaround came in the 46th over when Ervine sacrificed his wicket following a mix-up with Carlisle.
Ervine’s run-a-ball 100, his first in ODIs, included nine fours and a huge six off left-arm spinner Murali Kartik.