India cruising towards victory

A superb spell of bowling from Heath Streak could do nothing to stop India moving into an unassailable position at the end of the second day of the second test match at Harare.

Resuming the day on 195/1 in reply to Zimbabwe’s 161, India were already in a dominant position and looking to make the situation even more embarrassing for the Zimbabweans. But not long after the start of play Gautam Gambhir was out caught behind off Blessing Mahwire for 97, falling just short of his century having added just two to his overnight total. Not long afterwards the out of form VVS Laxman was Heath Streak’s second, and certainly not last, victim of the innings when he was out LBW for 8. Sourav Ganguly showed that his recent excursions into the media may have been plaguing his mind somewhat as he played a scratchy innings of 16 before edging a ball through to Tatenda Taibu to become debutant Waddington Mwayenga’s first test victim, certainly not a bad one despite his average recent form. The score was now 245/4, much less dominant than the 195/1 on which they started the first session.

Rahul Dravid was meanwhile playing a sensible and patient innings, gradually accumulating runs while partners came and went early on the second day. Yuvraj Singh was the first on day two to keep Dravid company for a considerable length of time, the two taking the score to 306 before Yuvraj was out clean bowled, Streak again the successful bowler. That was the last ball of that over and with the first ball of the next Dravid decided to follow Gambhir’s example and get out to Blessing Mahwire excruciatingly close to a century. This time the method of dismissal was bowled and the score for Dravid was 98. Dinesh Karthik’s stay at the crease was far from a long one, clean bowled by who else but Streak for 1, completing a collapse from 306/4 to 318/7.

The tail wagged to some extent, in particular first day bowling hero Irfan Pathan with a brisk 32, but the regular loss of wickets continued and India were all out for 366, a very disappointing total considering the position they had been in overnight. Heath Streak was the star with the ball, bowling brilliantly throughout the day and fully deserving his figures of 6/73.

Zimbabwe’s reply made an awful start as first Terry Duffin then Brendan Taylor and Dion Ebrahim all fell before the score reached 20. Duffin was caught by Dravid off Pathan for 10, Taylor LBW to the same bowler for 4 and then Ebrahim caught by Yuvraj off Zaheer Khan for 3.

It seemingly couldn’t get much worse than that, but the score became 21/4 as Taibu was brilliantly caught by Anil Kumble off Zaheer for 1, the innings now in tatters and without much chance of avoiding their fourth innings defeat of the home summer.

Hamilton Masakadza and Heath Streak restored some stability to the innings, batting through to stumps and adding 18 runs in the process. Zimbabwe will resume tomorrow looking at yet another heavy defeat in a home summer in which they have failed to win a single match. Today though at least Heath Streak gave Zimbabwe supporters something to smile about with a magnificent spell of pace bowling, and despite the fact that India are absolutely on top after the second day, the day really belonged to him.

Stumps – Day 2

India 366 all out
Rahul Dravid 98, Gautam Gambhir 97
Heath Streak 6-73, Blessing Mahwire 2-86

Zimbabwe 39-4
Hamilton Masakadza 11no, Terry Duffin 10
Zaheer Khan 2-9, Irfan Pathan 2-25

Zimbabwe trail by 166 runs with 4 wickets remaining.

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