Report: Zimbabwe vs India, 1st ODI
Chasing 229, India cruised to a six-wicket win in the first game of the five-match ODI series at the Harare Sports Club against Zimbabwe. Leading from the front, captain Virat Kohli scored a sparkling hundred and was ably supported by Ambati Rayudu who notched up his maiden half-century on his ODI debut. After a carefully complied 82 by Sikandar Raza at the top of the order and a quick-fire 43 by Elton Chigumbura helped Zimbabwe to a respectable total, India attained the target with 31 balls to spare.
Although India lost left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan with just 26 runs on the board, his opening partner Rohit Sharma continued to play watchfully and added 31 with Kohli before edging Chigumbura to the ‘keeper. Rayudu then joined forces with Kohli to carry the innings steadily forward. The duo grafted runs at an unhurried pace as they progressed towards the target unhindered.
While Kohli dominated the chase and put India firmly in the driver’s seat, Rayudu played a patient knock to help his skipper seize the advantage. Ensuring that there were no further hiccups, the duo gathered runs without taking any undue risks. The pair ran hard between the wickets as they coasted towards the target and personal landmarks while finding the occasional boundary. Playing the perfect foil, 27-year-old Rayudu brought up his fifty with a single to deep point. In the next over Kohli ran a quick single to the danger end to bring up his 15th ODI ton.
However, with 13 runs required, the No.3 bat departed for 115, thereby ending the match-clinching partnership for 159 runs. Soon, Suresh Raina returned for a duck and Dinesh Karthik joined Rayudu in the middle to take the team across the line. In a fitting finish, Rayudu then hit a four to claim victory and return unbeaten on 63.
Earlier, Vusi Sibanda and Raza started off cautiously and laid a solid foundation for Zimbabwe, after being invited to bat by India. While they bided their time at the crease and saw off the new-ball, the openers grafted 72 runs from 21.5 overs, until Amit Mishra trapped Sibanda lbw to give India their first breakthrough. Sean Williams then joined Raza in the middle to build on the platform, but managed to add only 33 for the second wicket, before Raina sneaked through the gate and dislodge his bails in the 31st over. Although India had kept the flow of runs in check, they had not been able to make early dents in the hosts’ line-up.
The match was evenly poised, and with a solid base and wickets in hand, the home team needed to accelerate and capitalise on the platform to be able to set a formidable target for India. But Amit Mishra dealt another blow by castling Hamilton Masakadza who had replaced Williams.
Raza, who reached his maiden fifty, was joined by skipper Brendan Taylor. The duo came together to arrest the fall of wickets and milked the bowling attack at a quick pace. The opener smashed a couple of sixes off Vinay Kumar to increase the scoring rate. But debutant Jaydev Unadkat struck to halt the flourishing partnership for 43. The hosts’ captain holed out to Raina at deep square-leg to return to the dressing room. And four runs later, Malcolm Waller lost his stumps to Mohammed Shami.
Although he lost partners at regular intervals, Raza garnered 82, before Mishra ended his stay at the crease.
Chigumbura and Tinotenda Mutombodzi then took Zimbabwe past 200. But a bit later, the latter who had hit Mishra for a six over extra cover in the previous over, hit Kumar to Dhawan at point. However, Chigumbura continued his onslaught and sent ball sailing over mid-wicket for a six to finish the over. Although he missed a well deserved half-century, his unbeaten 34-ball knock took the hosts to 228.
Brief scores: Zimbabwe 228/7 in 50 overs (S Raza 82, E Chigumbura 43*, A Mishra 3/43) lost to India 230/4 in 44.5 overs (V Kohli 115, A Rayudu 63*, P Utseya 2/34) by 6 wickets
Man of the Match: Virat Kohli for his match-winning 115