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Zimbabwe eyes fightback against India

Teams set for reprise after thrilling match in first ODI, with India looking to seal three-match series

Zimbabwe eyes fightback against India - Cricket News
Zimbabwe's batsmen have been consistent in putting up strong totals and they will be hoping for more of the same.
The Zimbabwe side that goes into the second One-Day International of its three-match series against India on Sunday (July 11) will be aware that it could well have been leading 1-0 instead of trailing by that margin after a thrilling first match on Friday.

Zimbabwe would have fancied its chances against the Ajinkya Rahane-led Indian side, which was lacking several big-name stars, and as the first ODI showed, both teams were well-matched. At various points, both were in control of the match before India emerged victor by just four runs.

From having India at 87 for 5 at one point, Zimbabwe saw Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny steadily build a partnership before racing away to a total of 255. In reply, led by a vital hundred from Elton Chigumbura, the captain, Zimbabwe fought till it needed ten runs from the last over, and six from three balls, but couldn't cross the line. 

Chigumbura said after that match that he was “disappointed” with the last-over defeat. "I thought the way we kept losing wickets, we didn't get the momentum we needed because we had to keep rebuilding. We kept on trying to build a partnership but up to the end, when I ended up batting with the specialist bowlers instead of a batsman, that's probably where we lost the game,” he said. 

Ahead of the second ODI, Zimbabwe will also want its bowlers to press home the advantage of early wickets. 

At the same time, the home team will be gladdened by the captain's form at this stage of the tournament, and by the fighting spirit of Graeme Cremer, who gave his leader company in the run chase. The batsmen have been consistent in putting up strong totals and they will be hoping for more of the same. The onus will be on the likes of Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza to convert their starts into big scores, while Sean Williams will hope to open his account for the tournament. 

The biggest threat in the first ODI was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who thrived in the bowler-friendly conditions. His last over made all the difference in the game.

Similarly, the Indian batsmen too would be wary of Zimbabwe's medium-pacers. "If we get a chance to bat up front early in the morning it's crucial, with the Duke ball that does swing and seam a bit, that we give the bowlers a lot more respect, than when we play with the Kookaburra ball in other ODIs,” said Binny.  

Among the batsmen, while Rayudu pressed forth his case for a more regular spot in the first-choice side with his sparking century, and Binny showed off his batting nous, Robin Uthappa, M Vijay, Manoj Tiwary and Kedar Jadhav, who all have something to prove, will want to grab the opportunity handed to them.  

Given what is at stake for the individuals in both teams, intent in Sunday's game is sure to be high. 

The ODI series will be followed by two T20Is, with all games held at the Harare Sports Club.  

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