India 230-4 (Kohli 113, Rayudu 63no) beat
Zimbabwe 228-8 by six wickets
First One-Day International, Harare
Captain Virat Kohli led from the front in scoring a century to inspire India to a six-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first One-Day International in Harare.
Kohli hit 115 in 108 balls as India, 230 for four in 44,5 overs, successfully chased down Zimbabwe’s 228 for seven with 31 balls to spare.
India’s triumph was historic as Kohli featured in record-breaking 159-run third-wicket partnership with debutant Ambati Rayudu (63 not out) who enjoyed a remarkable start to his international cricket career.
The record stand became the highest second-wicket partnership by India against Zimbabwe surpassing the 143 set by Sachin Tendulkar and Ajay Jadeja in Singapore in 1999.
Losing the toss and being sent in to bat didn’t deter Zimbabwe as openers Sikandar Raza Butt and Vusi Sibanda played with caution to put up a rather sluggish 72 for opening stand from 21.5 overs on a greenish, dry wicket.
Raza Butt (82) justified his selection to open the bat as he played diligently and went to score his maiden half-century in only his fourth appearance for the Chevrons - as Zimbabwe are affectionally known.
But Zimbabwe’s desire to add venom to their run-rate was thwarted when Amit Mishra (3-43) trapped Sibanda (34) lbw.
Zimbabwe’s 100 only came up in the 29th over and this wasn’t long before they lost their second wicket of Sean Williams (15), who was promoted up to number three, bowled by Suresh Raina (1-2) in his only over.
India had utilised another opportunity to cripple the run-rate in the middle period when they captured the core of Zimbabwe’s middle order of Hamilton Masakadza (11), captain Brendan Taylor (12) and Malcolm Waller (2); leaving the score at 166 for five in 40,1 overs.
Zimbabwe needed a bit of firepower in their innings upon entering the slog overs and hopes had been pinned on Raza Butt who had been around to cause trouble for the Indians. Sadly Raza Butt was Zimbabwe’s sixth wicket and Mishra’s third having contributed six fours and two sixes in the hosts 176.
All-rounder Elton Chigumbura came out and became the key to Zimbabwe setting a total they would have something to field for. Chigumbura smashed six fours and a six as he showed urgency in scoring with an unbeaten 34-ball 43.
The ex-skipper was briefly rallied by Tino Mutombodzi (8) who was caught at point by Vinay Kumar (1-57) and lastly, Prosper Utseya who remained unbeaten on eight when innings folded at 228 for seven.
Mohammed Shami (1-45) and debutant Jaydev Unadkat (1-39) also picked a scalp each for India in the clamp down.
In reply, India’s lethal opening pair Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma was kept at bay as Zimbabwe pressed on in the power-play searching for an early upset.
The Chevrons were still alive in the game when they got India guessing at 57 for two by the 13th over.
Kyle Jarvis (1-40) removed Dhawan (17); caught at fine leg by Waller trying to pull only finding top edge while Chigumbura (1-30) found Sharma’s edge to wicketkeeper Taylor for 20.
But the coming in and settling of Kohli and Rayudu had a serious negation on the Zimbabweans. The duo was expected to rebuild the innings against a charging Zimbabwean bowling attack – a thing they did to perfection.
India’s 100 was up in the 23rd over as India went into the driving seat with such ease as the Zimbabwean bowlers grew weary.
Kohli clobbered 13 fours and a six to mark his 15 ODI century whilst Rayudu contributed four fours in his maiden half-century.
When man of the match Kohli was finally caught by Sibanda off Utseya (2-34), the damage had already been done as India required just 12 runs to win.
Two balls later, Utseya was celebrating again when he got Raina brilliantly caught by Raza Butt for a duck.
Rayudu took the honours of hitting the winning runs off leg spinner Mutombodzi.
© Cricket World 2013