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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Compiled by SDNP

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India's bowling a worry: Wright


The Bangladesh Observer

RAWALPINDI, March 15 (Reuters) - A frail bowling attack is top of India's concerns after they only just held on for victory over Pakistan in the thrilling first one-day international at Karachi on Saturday.

Set a mammoth 350 target, Pakistan ran the Indians mightily close by racking up 344 for eight including a masterly 102-ball 122 from Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq.

India, missing frontline spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh due to injury, had scored 349 for seven.

"We need to work on our bowling," Indian coach John Wright told reporters on Sunday.

"Winning was a mixture of delight and relief. In the end, despite getting 349 runs, it became a little too close for comfort."

Experts felt India's bowlers, led by left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan who is just back from a hamstring injury, had allowed Pakistan to gain the psychological advantage from the match because of their heroic run chase.

"Kumble and Harbhajan are not here and there's no point thinking about how useful they could have been," Wright said.

"We have to make do with the resources we have."

Left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra finally bailed India out with an extraordinary last over, giving away only three runs with some accurate full-length deliveries.

"Nehra was exceptional. We need more of that," Wright said.

Zaheer went for 66 from his 10 overs and seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji for 56 but it was left-arm spinner Murali Kartik who was the real concern, costing 74 from his 10 overs.

Pakistan's bowling was also punished in the high-scoring match but manager Haroon Rashid said they were confident the pace battery of Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami and Abdul Razzaq would bounce back in the second match at Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

"It was a tense match between the two teams on Pakistani soil after a long time. Our bowlers were a bit over-eager," Rashid told reporters.

"We're confident Shoaib and Sami will get their act together. They know everyone is banking on them and they have to protect their reputations as world-class bowlers."

India are in Pakistan for a full test series for the first time in 14 years. The five-match one-day series will be followed by three tests.

The Indian government had banned all home and away cricket against Pakistan in 2000 due to political tensions over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The current tour is seen as a symbol of improving relations between the two south Asian neighbours.

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Streak leads Zimbabwe relieved Bangladesh
beaten by 3 wickets

The Bangladesh Observer

HARARE, March 15 (AFP) - Heath Streak played a captain's innings to pull Zimbabwe back from the brink of a potential humiliating series defeat here as the home side defeated Bangladesh by three wickets in the final one-dayer to take the series 2-1.

Chasing a modest Bangladesh total of 183 all out, Zimbabwe got off to flying start as Grant Flower and Barney Rogers put on 112 for the first wicket before they collapsed to 157-7.

But Streak, whose side came back from 1-0 down in the series to clinch victory after the first two matches were washed out, hit an unbeaten 37 as he teamed up with Gary Brent to see his side home in the 43rd over, much to the relief of the Harare Sports Club crowd.

"It was a hearts in mouths affair," admitted Streak.

Zimbabwe could so easily have lost, to give Bangladesh its first ever series win.

Batting first after winning the toss, Bangladesh amassed 105 runs for the first wicket, with Hannan Sarker hitting 59, and Manjural Islam, a fluent 63, giving their side a wonderful start.

But the tourists collapsed in disarray once they had gone.

From 153-2 the last eight wickets went for just 30 runs and their final score of 183 seemed to be a gift for Zimbabwe.

The rapid succession of victims included captain Habibul Bashar, whose two runs added to a dismal sequence that included four ducks in the series

Zimbabwe's reply was almost a mirror image.

Openers Flower and Rogers with Flower registering his 40th in one-day internationals.

Standing on 112-1 the match appeared to be theirs for the taking, but Khaled Mahmood, having dismissed Flower, sent Stuart Carlisle, Stuart Matsikenyere and Tatenda Taibu back to the pavilion with not a single run between them.

Mahmood's final figures of 4-19 not only won him the man of the match award but it went into the record books as Bangladesh's best bowling performance in any international.

When Sean Ervine followed his colleagues with just one run, Zimbabwe's collapse was far worse than Bangladesh's earlier in the day.

From 112-1 they found themlves on 124-6, still 60 runs short of target with four wickets left.

Streak, named man of the series, once again rescued his side.

He engineered a 33-run partnership with Dion Ebrahim and another of 27 with tail-ender Brent.

"I must congratilate my team for hanging in there under heart-stopping circumstances," said Streak.

"Bangladesh gave us such an exciting fight. They are much improved and will cause other countries a lot of problems."

Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar said his side were still learning the harsh realities of international cricket.

"We have learned a great deal on this tour, which we hope to put to good use. Zimbabwe are a gritty side," he said.

However, their battling performance was overshadowed by having spin bowler Mohammad Rafique sent home for disciplinary reasons before the match.

He took the first plane out of Harare Sunday.

Manager Latif Khan confirmed to AFP that Rafique had had a row with Bashar in circumstances "that were unacceptable."

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