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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February, 2004, 11:54 GMT
Pathan sets up Indian win
VB Series, Perth: India 136-6 (30.3 overs) beat Zimbabwe 135 (34.4 overs) by four wickets

Australia P8 W6 L1 NR1
Pts 37 RR 1.10
India P8 W5 L3 NR0
Pts 29 RR 0.28
Zimbabwe P8 W0 L7 NR1
Pts 6 RR -1.33

India made heavy weather of reaching a modest target as they beat Zimbabwe by four wickets in Perth.

Teenager paceman Irfan Pathan took two wickets in his first over and returned figures of 4-24 as Zimbabwe were bowled out for just 135.

But careless shots cost India early wickets and it could have been even worse if Zimbabwe had not dropped two catches and given away 14 wides.

India reached 136-6 off 30.3 overs with Hemang Badani 34 not out.

But he was lucky to escape on eight when Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak missed a straightforward chance at point as Badani cut a ball from Travis Friend.

VVS Laxman was the other batsman let off by the Africans as Stuart Carlisle, running back from slip, failed to hang onto a top-edged hook shot.

Laxman was 25 at the time but his luck ran out on 32 when a short ball from Sean Ervine struck him in the throat as he tried to hook and bounced down onto the stumps.

India's innings has begun in disappointing fashion as Sachin Tendulkar was caught behind off Streak for three.

6 Feb Melbourne
8 Feb Sydney
10 Feb Brisbane*
*if necessary

Virender Sehwag raced to 23 off 22 balls but then flailed at a wide delivery from Andy Blignaut and Stuart Matsikenyeri took an excellent catch down at third man.

Captain Rahul Dravid (10) and Yuvraj Singh (four) failed to make an impression and when Laxman was out, reducing India to 105-5, Zimbabwe sensed a possible upset.

Badani then ran out Rohan Gavaskar by turning down a quick single, but kept his head and sealed the win with a leg glance to the fine leg boundary for his fifth four.

It meant Zimbabwe had lost seven of their eight games in the competition - the other ending in a no result because of rain.

Once again it was their batting which let them down.

With Craig Wishart and Mark Vermeulen back at home because of injuries, they went into the game without Grant Flower, who fractured a finger during practice.

Stuart Carlisle
Stuart Carlisle clutches in vain at a chance offered by Laxman

Streak still decided to bat first after winning the toss but his decision backfired immediately as Pathan dismissed Vusi Sibanda and Tatenda Taibu for ducks in the space of three balls.

The left-armer also accounted for Dion Ebrahim and Ray Price to record his best figures in a one-day international.

Carlisle (28) and Ervine (23) added 63 in 10 overs for the fourth wicket before Carlise was run out and Ervine was caught off Amit Bhandari in the next over.

Bhandari, making his first appearance since 2000, provided excellent support for Pathan as he took 3-31.

Matsikenyeri went for his shots in making 36 off 46 balls but Zimbabwe's innings came to an end when he attempted a wild drive to ball from Bhandari and Dravid took an easy catch behind the stumps.

India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Venkatsai Laxman, Hemang Badani, Yuvraj Singh, Rohan Gavaskar, Amit Bandari, Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra, Laxmipathy Balaji.

Zimbabwe: Heath Streak (captain), Tatenda Taibu, Andy Blignaut, Stuart Carlisle, Dion Ebrahim, Sean Ervine, Travis Friend, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Blessing Mahwire, Ray Price.

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