Rampant India seal comfortable win against Zimbabwe
India 178-5 (Uthappa 39 no) beat
Zimbabwe 124-7 (Masakadza 28)
First Twenty20 International in Harare
Axar Patel produced a brilliant spell with the ball after Indian batsmen piled on 178 runs to defeat Zimbabwe by 54 runs in the first Twenty20 International in Harare.
Having won the toss and opting to bat first, India began the proceedings well with Ajinkya Rahane (33) and Murali Vijay (34) posting a 64-run opening stand inside seven overs.
Vijay took the debutant Taurai Muzarabani (0-36) for one six and two fours in the fifth over as he followed it up with two more boundaries in the next over off Neville Madziva (0-46), giving India a solid start in the powerplay.
However, Vijay ran himself out looking for a tricky single, failing to beat an accurate throw from Sikandar Raza (0-2).
Rahane fell in the tenth over to Graeme Cremer (1-20), who beat him in flight, inducing a leading edge that carried to point, as India reached 82 for two at the half-way mark.
Robin Uthappa (39 not out) continued to play positively as wickets fell around him, with Zimbabwe starting to employ the short balls well.
Chris Mpofu (3-33) struck twice to send Manish Pandey (19), Kedar Jadhav (9) and Stuart Binny (11) back in three consecutive overs, preventing India from running away with the game towards the end.
The bane for Zimbabwe were the 25 extras they conceded, which along with Binny and Harbhajan Singh’s (8 not out) late cameo, pushed India’s overall score to 178.
Among the bowlers, Cremer was the most economical, while Mpofu was the most successful with three wickets to his name.
Zimbabwe had their task cut out needing 179 for a win, but their openers, Hamilton Masakadza (28) and Chamu Chibhabha (23), took it upon themselves to give their team a good start.
The duo specifically targeted the debutant Sandeep Sharma (0-34), hitting him for 22 runs in his initial two overs, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-22) and Mohit Sharma (1-8) pulled things back with economical spells.
Despite a solid start, Zimbabwe quickly faltered, losing the wickets of Chibhabha, Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura (1) and Charles Coventry (10) in successive overs, sliding from 55 for naught to 68 for four, in the space of three overs.
It was India’s spinners who did the damage, as they used the slow pitch to good effect, with Axar (3-17) particularly impressing with a double strike in the tenth over.
This middle order failure for Zimbabwe proved to be the turning point in the game, as the hosts struggled to keep up with the scoring rate, losing regular wickets to the scoreboard pressure.
Utseya (13 not out) and Madziva (14 not out) tried their best to up the ante towards the end, but it proved to be a tough ask, as Zimbabwe only managed to score 124 for seven in their 20 overs.
Axar picked up the man-of-the-match award for his three wicket haul. This win gives India an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-match T20I series.
© Cricket World 2015