Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
The Prince of Calcutta was well aware that he had thrown away two good starts in the previous games against SA and Kenya and needed to make amends. And he did so in magnificent fashion.
Stroking the ball beautifully from ball one, he went on to play 146 more balls scoring a superb 139, a knock that would have made David Gower, probably one of the most stylish lefthanders the world has seen, an envious man.
His timing and placement was splendid. Although he smashed 6 sixes and 11 boundaries, the best shot to my mind was the backward defensive push off Guy Whittall which was timed so exquisitely that it raced past the bowler and a surprised fielder at mid-on for a boundary.
Saurav, who has been criticised for feeding off Sachin, or in other words scoring only if the going was good at the other end, proved his critics wrong with this innings. Off late he has developed the urge and the necessary qualities to make big scores once he passes the fifty mark and today was no different.
He played beautifully throughout, slowing down close to his hundred and once he passed his 8th one-day hundred, the floodgates opened. Andy Whittall, the off-spinner, was given special attention and smashed for 36 in his last two overs including 4 massive sixes. A first spell of 8 overs for 32 runs finally read as 10 overs for 68. Saurav must surely be at the top of the list as far as hitting spinners out of the ground. ...
Saurav was well supported by Ramesh who scored 31, Robin Singh who scored 41 after being promoted in the order to No. 3. Sunil Joshi put the game beyond Zimbabwe with a cameo towards the end of 25 in 12 balls with a couple of huge sixes as well.
India finally totalled 277 for 6 wickets in 50 overs, a scoreof mammoth proportions on a wicket favouring spin in the afternoon session. To make matters even more difficult, Zimababwe had to reach the target in 42 overs to qualify for the final scheduled for Sunday on net run rate
As predicted, the Zimbabweans crumbled after a good start, the outstanding bowler for the Indian side was Chopra who collected four wickets while Bharadwaj who has been the revelation of this tournament bagged 3 wickets.
For Zimbabwe, opener Neil Johnson scored 52 and Grant Flower 38 but no other batsman passed 25 as they were dismissed for a poor 170 to lose by 107 runs.
The decision of the Man of the Match could have been made by any 6 year old. It had to be Saurav Ganguly unless a bowler claimed a double hat-trick which didn't happen!
Now all roads lead to the Nairobi Gymkhana for the final to be played on Sunday,and the South Africans are surely looking to avenge the defeat against the Indians in their first game a week ago.
The condition of the pitch has definitely undergone a change with the groundsmen pouring a fair amount of water on it to lessen the advantage for the Indian spinners, so the game promises to be a belter. However as far as the Indian team and its fans are concerned, consecutive victories over Zimababwe in Singapore and Nairobi have exorcised the ghost of the World Cup.
India: 277 for 6 wickets in 50 overs
Saurav Ganguly 139 in 147 balls with 11 fours and 6 sixes.
Robin Singh 41, Ramesh 31, Joshi 25.
Guy Whittall 3 for 55
Zimbabwe: 170 all out in 38.3 overs
Neil Johnson 52, Grant Flower 38.
Chopra 4 for 33, Bharadwaj 3 for 34.
India won by 107 runs. Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE1999
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online. For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more.