Azharuddin passes Test milestone

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The Independent Online
India 301 for 5 v West Indies

Mohammed Azharuddin passed one notable personal landmark but fell well short of another as the rain-ruined fifth and final Test meandered towards its inconclusive end on the last day yesterday. India, 241 for 4 at the start of play, were 321 for 6 with half an hour of the afternoon session gone.

When he reached 20 Azharuddin became the sixth Indian batsman to pass 5,000 runs in Test cricket. Now in his 13th year in the Indian team, the stylish 34-year-old right-hander from Hyderabad has had a meagre series and was passing 20 for the first time in five innings.

On an accommodating pitch and against steady bowling, but understandably lacking motivation, he would have set his sights on another milestone, a hundred against the West Indies that has eluded him in 14 previous Tests. He was 31 when he touched a catch to the wicketkeeper, Courtney Browne, off Franklyn Rose.

Azharuddin might have been displeased with the television replay that showed Rose's front foot clearly over the relevant crease on delivery, but umpire Eddie Nicholls did not spot the infringement.

Azharuddin has been one of the game's most eye-catching batsmen throughout his long career, but on this tour he has appeared not to have his heart in it. He was replaced as captain by Sachin Tendulkar last October after serving in the post for five years and, with the pressure off, responded with three magnificent centuries in the home and away Tests against South Africa that preceded this series. He has 17 Test hundreds in his 83 Tests, spread around against all opponents except the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

His was the only wicket gained by the West Indies on a bright, breezy, sunny morning but they secured another immediately after lunch when the captain Courtney Walsh, not a practising first slip, nonchalantly snared a left-handed catch to dismiss Anil Kumble off Carl Hooper's drifting off-spinner.

Final day (lunch); India won toss

INDIA - First Innings

(Overnight: 241 for 4))

M Azharuddin c Browne b Rose 31

N R Mongia not out 13

A Kumble not out 14

Extras (b 4, lb 5, w 2, nb 13) 24

Total (for 5) 301

Fall of wickets: 5-280.

To bat: S Joshi, D Ganesh, A Kuruvilla, B K V Prasad.

Bowling: Ambrose 29-14-36-0; Bishop 26-8-50-2; Rose 30.4-6-86-2; Walsh 28.2-9-62-1; Hooper 7-2-16-0; Chanderpaul 23-7-42-0.

WEST INDIES: S L Campbell, S C Williams, S Chanderpaul, B C Lara, C Hooper, R I C Holder, C O Browne, I R Bishop, C E L Ambrose, F A Rose, *C A Walsh.

Umpires: G Sharp (Eng) and E Nicholls (WI).

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