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When Zimbabwe silently killed India in Leicester

Henry Olonga traps Venkatesh Prasad lbw to seal a remarkable victory against India in Leicester. After a pathetic show in the Test series against ...

Henry Olonga traps Venkatesh Prasad lbw to seal a remarkable victory against India in Leicester.

After a pathetic show in the Test series against Australia followed by a poor performance in the ODI tri-series, India has started this World Cup with a bang by winning 5 matches in a row. Having already reached the quarter-finals, defending champions India will be taking on Zimbabwe in their last group stage match, in Auckland on Saturday. Momentum is key to success in any tournament and the 'Men in Blue' would like to complete the group stage with an all win record. Also India has an incredible record against the Zimbabweans as both sides have met 8 times in World Cups with India winning seven times.

Blast from the past:

So now, we will go back to the past and relive that one game which India lost. The squad for the 1999 World Cup was well balanced and Sachin Tendulkar was in great form. Many sports critics also admitted that the team had the right unit and believed that they would win either the cup or finish in the top- four. But India started badly, losing their first match to South Africa, and then to Zimbabwe next. It was a disappointing day which is also remembered for another cause as Sachin Tendulkar came back home to attend his father’s funeral on the morning of the match. 

After losing the toss Zimbabwe opted to bat first. The start for Zimbabwe was not reassuring as Neil Johnson, Paul Strange and Murrey Goodwin, all fell cheaply. Then the Flower brothers, Andy (68) and Grant (45) brought substance to the middle order and powered Zimbabwe to a fighting total of 252/9. But the number of extras (51) included 21 wides and 16 no-balls, bowled by the Indian bowlers assisted Zimbabwe’s total more effectively than their batsman. Since the Indian bowlers bowled so many extras, India were left only 46 overs to bat as they were penalized for a slow over rate.

The chase began, and India’s top order failed as Heath Streak and Neil Johnson reduced India to 56/3 in 9 overs. However, Sadagopan Ramesh (who came in for Sachin Tendulkar) scored a gritty fifty, uplifted the team and put 99 runs with Ajay Jadeja. The middle order also did well as Ajay Jadeja (43), Robin Singh (35) and Nayan Mongia (28) batted positively to take India closer. But then, World Cup debutante Henry Olonga stunned India. He was given the ball with India needing 9 runs in 12 balls with three wickets in hand. Olonga bagged all three wickets in five balls to seal a remarkable victory for Zimbabwe. His pace was perfect as well his accuracy. He removed the obstinate Robin Singh brilliantly, then bowled Javagal Srinath, who had just hit two sixes, and finally trapped Venkatesh Prasad leg-before.

This was undoubtedly a melancholy day for India, as their World Cup campaign had suffered an early setback. However, the Indian team bounced back with three consecutive victories to qualify for the super-six. The chances of another shock defeat at the hands of the same opponents after 16 years literally do not exist considering the kind of form both teams are in currently, but let’s hope the team has a good workout which will help them in the knockout stages. 

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