Zimbabwe vs. India

29 May 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2010

Suresh RainaThis is the first game of the Micromax Cup in Zimbabwe between the hosts, India and Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe is entering this tournament with a disastrous performance in the World T-20, being knocked out in the first round.

However, they did learn important lessons after beating Australia and Pakistan in the warm-up matches of the tournament, under a new captain, Elton Chigumbura. India, also didn’t do well in the same tournament, having being knocked out in the Super 8s stage.

They are under pressure back home and as a result most of the seniors have been rested in order to give youngsters a chance to perform. So all this makes it an interesting match as India have a new-look team and a new captain in Suresh Raina and Zimbabwe also are looking to start afresh in order to prepare for the World Cup next year.

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At the Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo the conditions favoured the batsmen to a certain extent. As a result, India won the toss and elected to bat first. Dinesh Karthik, and Murali Vijay, both Tamil Nadu players too, were out in the middle to open the batting.

India tried to take control of the game thanks to horrendous bowling from the Zimbabwean skipper himself, which resulted in 36 runs coming in 2 overs. And the sundries read 24.

However, Zimbabwe fought back in no time. Vijay’s running between the wickets could be described as if he was walking in a park. As a result, a run-out sometime or the other was evident, and it did happen. Three balls later, the usually athletic Virat Kohli, batting one down, got run out without scoring and facing a ball!

And much sooner, the settled Karthik also edged a flighted delivery from the former captain Prosper Utseya and Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwean wicketkeeper held on to the catch.

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It was 61/3 in just 12.3 overs when the two biggies in this second-string Indian team, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma were at the crease. Raina, tried to play a captain’s knock by nudging the ball here and there responsibly, thereby curbing his aggressive shots.

In the end, it proved to be slightly slower innings than expected as he scored 37 runs off 53 balls, with just two boundaries. However, Sharma batted extremely well, considering the flak that he had been facing over the pub incident in the Caribbean and the issue of him being overweight.

He certainly proved his critics wrong by scoring 114 runs off 119 balls at an impressive strike rate of 95.79, which included 6 boundaries and 4 sixes. Ravindra Jadeja, was also a bright spark of the Indian batting scoring a run-a-ball unbeaten 61 and with some help from Yusuf Pathan’s lustrous hitting, India managed to reach a competitive total of 285/5 in 50 overs.

For Zimbabwe, it was Chris Mpofu who was the best bowler as he finished with figures of 2/63 in 10 overs. Utseya bowled well to keep India below 300. Yet, it was a tough task for Zimbabwe to chase 286, against an Indian attack which is young and has proved its ability in tournaments like the IPL and Ranji Trophy.

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However, the Indian bowlers didn’t bowl to their potential as Zimbabwe started off in blazing fashion. It had to take a slider from Amit Mishra, by far India’s most experienced bowler in this match, to remove Hamilton Masakadza who in the end scored 46 runs off 43 balls. Despite the loss of this wicket, Zimbabwe was in a dominant position at 88/1 in 13 overs.

The pace trio of Ashok Dinda, R Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav struggled to stop Zimbabwe from putting up good partnerships and allowed Zimbabwe to bat freely as Brendan Taylor, a very underestimated batsman scored as many as 81 runs off 103 balls, as the required rate never went out of reach. Although at one stage, Zimbabwe required 50 runs off 36 balls, they deserved to win.

Charles Coventry, whose ferocious hitting is known courtesy the innings of 194 against Bangladesh last year, also went at a strike rate of 128. Chigumbura is a clean hitter of the ball and the captain couldn’t have felt more delighted than seeing the youngster on debut, Craig Ervine, scoring a half-century and winning the match in his debut one-day game as captain with him himself being at the other end! Ervine played a calm, controlled knock which made Zimbabwe overhaul India’s score with 10 balls to spare.

Raina’s captaincy and team selection came into question. Using Jadeja in the last few overs was not the best of tactics and so he paid the price for it. Yusuf Pathan wasn’t given more overs and instead Raina banked on inexperience to deliver. This caused a major upset and opens up the triseries in dramatic fashion.

Brendan Taylor was named man-of-the-match and he could lead Zimbabwe to more wins in the future against top nations, if he continues to perform in this vain. On the other hand, Raina and India has a lot of thinking to do as they would face Sri Lanka (yet again!), next up. And the Tigers would be looking to pounce on the prey which has already been wounded so severely.

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