The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Indians quell late Zimbabwe charge
- Africans lose Mark Vermeulen to skull fracture

255/6 (50 ovs)
231 (47.1 ovs)
MoM Yuvraj Singh

Brisbane: India quashed a late onslaught from Zimbabwe to scamper home with a 24-run run victory in a tri-series tie at the Gabba here on Tuesday.

After posting 255 for six, built around the efforts of Rahul Dravid (84) and Yuvraj Singh (69), India were cruising along comfortably till the 37th over when Zimbabwe were almost out of the match at 148 for six.

But the tail-enders came up with yet another spirited performance to give India a scare before the side ran out of steam to finish at 231 for nine in 47.1 overs.

Opener Mark Vermeulen had to retire hurt when he was hit on the head by an Irfan Pathan bouncer early in the innings. Vermeulen was later rushed to a hospital for X-ray, which revealed a fracture in the skull.

Allrounder Sean Ervine (39) and Dion Ebrahim (39) added a quickfire 49 for the seventh wicket to kindle hopes of an upset win for the African team.

But India sealed the match in the 48th over to pocket five points and take their tally to 17, one behind leaders Australia. Zimbabwe also opened their account with a bonus point.

Zimbabwe’s decision to reshuffle the batting order, giving the opening slot to veteran Grant Flower, did yield some results initially as the side got off to a positive start. Flower (36) and Vermeulen (14) played cautiously to come up with the most fruitful partnership for the team in the tournament so far — adding 28 runs in seven overs.

Allrounder Travis Friend was the next man in and he checked his aggressive instincts to provide perfect foil to Flower, who by then was growing in confidence.

The two batsmen took the score to 66 before three quick dismissals saw the Zimbabweans in familiar territory.

Friend was run out at the non-striker’s end by Sourav while on seven and four runs later Flower ran out of patience to give a catch to V.V.S. Laxman in the deep off Ashish Nehra.

Andy Blignaut (1) square cut ferociously but straight into Yuvraj Singh’s hands at point. Heath Streak (3) suffered a rare failure in the series when he missed a straight delivery from Sourav to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 81 for 4.

At half-way stage, India were marching towards registering a big win. The score had moved to 106 for 4 in the 30th over when a couple of sharp showers interrupted the game for 40 minutes.

On resumption, Sourav swelled his figures with two more wickets. Tatenda Taibu (15) was caught in the deep and Stuart Carlisle’s (34) grim resistance had a comical end when his edge slipped out of Patel’s gloves but got stuck in the flap of his pads.

Earlier, Man-of-the-Match Yuvraj and Dravid rearranged a sorry-looking 72 for 3 with a fourth-wicket stand of 114 runs as India finished with a competitive total on the board.

India had lost new opener Patel (19), Sourav (33) and Laxman (12) within the first 16 overs and made heavy weather against a far-from-menacing bowling.

Patel, brought in place of injured Sachin Tendulkar, was quickly into his stride before he was held back and duly lost his stumps in frustration to Streak. He made his 19 from 29 balls with three fours.

Sourav too was pegged back despite lashing four boundaries on the off-side before an attempted scoop failed to clear Douglas Hondo at short fine leg. The Indian captain’s knock came from 43 balls with four fours.

Laxman (12) chased a wide delivery and got a thick edge to wicketkeeper Taibu as Ervine made his presence felt.

Both Dravid and Yuvraj steadied the ship and were quite content with only the singles in the initial phase. The left-handed batsman smashed 69 runs from 76 balls with four fours, this being his 13th one-day fifty in his 83rd match.

Dravid played watchfully before opening up in the slog overs in the company of Rohan Gavaskar, who came up with a fine performance. Gavaskar made run-a-ball 22 which included a six over long-off.

Though Yuvraj bagged the Man-of-the-Match award, Sourav played a huge role in the win with a score of 33 and three wickets for 55 with his medium-pacers, to go with two catches and two run outs he effected.

Earlier, the players observed a minute’s silence before the start of the match in memory of former David Hookes who died on Monday after an assault outside a Melbourne pub. The players and both umpires — Rudi Koertzen and Steve Davis — also wore black armbands.

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