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Home > Cricket > PTI > Report

Asia XI clinch Afro-Asia series

June 10, 2007 00:42 IST


A splendid batting display, highlighted by Sourav Ganguly's [Images] 88 and Sri Lanka [Images] medium pacer Dilhara Fernando's four for 36 haul, helped Asia beat Africa by 31 runs in the second one-dayer in Chennai on Saturday night and clinch the Afro-Asia Cup series with a match to spare.

The Asian XI, which had scored an imposing total of 337 for seven, bowled out the African XI for 306 with just a ball to spare in the allotted 50 overs.

Replying to the huge total, the Africans kept themselves in the contest with solid performances from Bota Dippenaar (67-72b, 9X4) and Mark Boucher [Images] (73-71b, 4X4 and 2X6).

The Asian XI, who won the first ODI at Bangalore by 34 runs, took wickets at crucial times to shut out African hopes of levelling the series.

The Asian team, riding on a solid 88 from Ganguly and useful contributions from Virender Sehwag [Images] (52), M S Dhoni (33), Mahela Jaywardene (45), Mohammad Yusuf (5) and Yuvraj Singh's unbeaten and breezy 30 (13b, 3x4, 2x6) finished their innings at 337 for seven.

Interestingly, Indians alone accounted for 203 runs of the total.

India's new ball bowler Zaheer Khan [Images], who sustained a "strain" while bowling his third over, had to limp back to the pavilion, creating doubts about his availability for Sunday's match.

Captain Jayawardene used as many as eight bowlers, including part-timers Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh [Images] and Ganguly. Pakistan's Mohammad Asif [Images] and Mohammad Rafique claimed two wickets each while Sehwag and Yuvraj one each.

Dilhara Fernando, who replaced Mushrafe Mortaza of Bangaladesh in today's game, provided important breakthroughs, claiming the wickets of Vusi Sibanda (35), captain Justin Kemp (0), Mark Boucher (73) and then lower order batsman Johan Botha as the African XI were all out for 306 in 49.5 overs.

The last pair of Thomas Odoyo and Morne Morkel added quickfire 43 runs in 35 balls but their effort went in vain.

The Asian XI bowlers were supported by some superb fielding efforts, particularly substitute Harbhajan Singh [Images], dropped for today's match, and Ganguly, who took unbelievable catches late in the innings.

Ganguly made a diving effort at midwicket to send back Albie Morkel.

The flat wicket played true to expectations as Boucher and Shaun Pollock [Images], the centurion at Bangalore, fought back adding 58 runs in 56 balls for the fifth wicket after Dippenaar's departure.

Boucher, who lifted Virender Sehawag in the previous over for two huge sixes, tried to loft Fernando over long off but his miss hit flew into the safe hands of Asif at long on in the 37th over.

Under tremendous pressure with the asking rate hovering around over 10 runs, Pollock tried to clear the long on ropes only to give a catch to Asif off Sehwag in the 41st over.

Elton Chigumbara (7) was then caught superbly by a running Harbhajan just inches away from the ropes on the leg side.

Earlier, Asif gave the breakthrough, removing De Villiers caught behind by Dhoni for 13.

Fernando, who was brought in as fourth bowler, provided a double break in his second over, sending back Sibanda and Kemp, whose woeful form since the World Cup continued.

Sibanda went for a wild swing and the resultant top edge was taken by Dhoni. A ball later, Kemp played and missed the line to be bowled out.

But, Dippennar and the experienced Boucher got together and mixing caution and aggression, ensured that the asking rate was within manageable limit. Dippennar also got to his half century in the meanwhile.

Yuvraj broke the partnership getting Dippennar caught by Harbhajan at deep midwicket going for a pull. The fourth wicket partnership yielded 79 runs of 84 balls.

The left-handed Ganguly was slow to start off, often content to give the strike to his partners as he brought up his 67th 50 in 75 balls. But he missed what would have been his 23rd ODI ton holding out in the deep trying to slog.

Coming at the fall of Sanath Jayasuriya, who again failed to find his touch, Ganguly was involved in three solid stands -- 80 for the fourth wicket with Jayawardene and 84 for fifth with Md Yusuf -besides adding 57 runs with Dhoni for third.

Ganguly, dropped on 67 by Vusi Sibanda off Elton Chigumbara, hit one six and nine fours in his three hours of stay under humid conditions.

The other highlight of the Asian XI's innings was the lightning unbeaten 30 by Yuvraj Singh. His knock came of just 13 balls with three boundaries and two huge sixes.

The African XI bowling looked ordinary with the flat wicket offering nothing and all the six bowlers used by Kemp in short spells bore the brunt of the run hunt by the Asians.

Medium pacers Morne Morkel and Elton Chigumbara, who turned out to be most expensive conceding 84 runs of his 10 overs, were the most successful, claiming two wickets each.

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