India won the toss and elected to bat first. Tendulkar and Ganguly got India off to a good start, but after the fourth wicket fell, things began to go wrong for India. Ganguly made a solid hundred, but that was not enough for India to post a big total. From 190 for 3, India slumped to 220 for 9 in their allotted 50 overs. The Indian captain must have been worried about his decicion to bat first. Defending 220 on this Sharjah wicket was never going to be easy. Ajit Agarkar did it in fine style.
New Zealand came out to bat, chasing 221. A pumped up Agarkar gave India the dream start they so badly needed. With the Kiwi batsmen not yet troubling the scorers, Agarkar bowled a perfect outswinger to get rid of Lorne Howell. The ball held it's line and shaped away in the last moment, doing just enough to brush the outside edge off Howell's bat. Nayan Mongia snapped up the early offering and India were on its way. Prasad chipped in and took the wickets of Astle and Cairns. The captain Stephen Fleming looked determined to take the Kiwis to victory and found an able partner in Craig McMillan. The two built a solid partnership, milking the Indian spinners for runs. In a moment of inspiration, Azhar tossed the ball to Agarkar, who turned the match around in the space of 15 balls. Agarkar's 15 ball blast removed both the in-form batsmen McMillan and Fleming, leaving the Kiwis reeling at 184 for 6. He followed this up by bowling Dion Nash, which gave him 3 wickets in his second spell. Fleming tried flicking Agarkar over mid-wicket, but could only hole-out to Kumble. McMillan played across the line to an Agarkar delivery that was bang on target and payed the ultimate price.
Agarkar ended the match with figures of 10-2-35-4, and was deservedly named the man of the match.Coca-Cola Cup, 1997/98:India v New Zealand, 17 April 1998