Pressure builds on Azharuddin

Derbyshire 409 and 13-0 Indians 229 and 192 Derbyshire won by 10 wkts
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The Independent Online
There may have been sun on their backs, but it did nothing to improve the lot of the touring Indians. Defeat here against an under-strength county side, two of whose number were taking their first steps in first-class cricket, represents a humiliation. And it was inflicted with half a day to spare.

All good news for England, for whom Derbyshire have performed a double service, resting Dominic Cork from this match and dealing another debilitating blow to the already depressed tourists - with no regard for Indian sensibilities, Dean Jones sent in Devon Malcolm to open. The fast bowler's heavy willow accounted for 12 of the 13 runs needed to complete a 10-wicket victory. Six of them came from a huge pull off Saurav Ganguly.

Much to the dismay of the Derbyshire committee, who had been looking forward to a profitable Sunday's play, the Indians declined to take part in a one-day match today. They preferred to focus their thoughts on this week's Second Test at Lord's, a prospect that must engender a sense of trepidation within the team and one of foreboding for Mohammad Azharuddin, their captain.

He is under increasing pressure at home, where his people no longer accept that international cricket inevitably embraces lows as well as highs. Some of his more outspoken critics suggest that he should step down from the job now, even with the series in progress, but it is unlikely that such a proud man as he would compromise his dignity by doing so. He was dealt another blow yesterday with the news that the left-arm spinner, Sunil Joshi, is returning home because of a broken left index finger.

Azharuddin batted with no more visible conviction yesterday than did most of his colleagues, who, curiously, performed as if even they were anxious to be near a television set at 3pm. Certainly, the lessons of the first innings, when only Nayan Mongia of the recognised batsmen applied himself, appeared to have been lost on them.

It was as if they had already decided that 180 was too large a first- innings deficit to overhaul, and they seemed gripped by a collective inclination not to get squarely behind the ball. Six of their number fell to catches in the arc between wicketkeeper and gully, and there was not too much movement off the seam to blame it on.

Vikram Rathore succumbed first, after the resumption at 86 for one, edging a drive to second slip after which Rahul Dravid paid the price, going leg before to Phillip DeFreitas. Ganguly, likely to bat No 7 at Lord's, threatened briefly to get a grip, but spoiled his half-century by surrendering to Kevin Dean, the debutant left-arm pace bowler, without offering a stroke.

Mongia was left stranded after his captain declined to run a single, after which a well motivated Malcolm began to run through the lower orders. The England discard accounted for Azharuddin with a lifter sent looping to the wicketkeeper and finished with four for 28 on the day as Indian subsided, returning eight for 110 in the match.

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