Sloppy in the field, under par with the bat, Zimbabwe slips to 54-run loss in first T20I
Since being tested in the first One-Day International, Ajinkya Rahane’s Indian side has slipped into cruise control and, on Friday (July 17), it brought the team a convincing 54-run victory in the first Twenty20 International at Harare Sports Club.
India barely needed a second gear in amassing 178 for 5 after winning the toss and opting to bat, and its formidable total was never under threat as Zimbabwe floundered to 124 for 7.
To start with, Zimbabwe was sloppy in the field, conceding 25 extras, and generally lacked direction in its chase once the Indian spinners came on. With India maintaining its standards, their vast experience easily saw the team through – despite handing out five T20I debuts on the day.
Largely, it was the older hands that got the job done. Rahane shared a 64-run opening stand in seven overs with M Vijay to set the tone, while Robin Uthappa rediscovered his touch with an unbeaten 39. Bhuvneshwar Kumar continued his excellent tour with the ball, while Axar Patel and Harbhajan Singh shared five wickets.
There were two bright spots in the Zimbabwean bowling, with Graeme Cremer appearing to find his confidence after a horror ODI series, and Chris Mpofu returning to the side to take 3 for 33. While it took a run out to separate Rahane and Vijay, the latter falling for 34, Cremer recovered from a poor opening over to float the ball up in his second and earn the wicket of Rahane for 33.
With Zimbabwe gifting 13 wides, there was never any pressure on the Indian middle order until Mpofu returned at the death. Although the lanky fast bowler pegged India back three times, there were easy runs to be had at the other end as Neville Madziva and debutant Taurai Muzarabani missed their lengths.
Zimbabwe made a reasonable start to its chase, with Sandeep Sharma given a rough ride by openers Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha in his first outing in the Indian blue. Bhuvneshwar made up for Sandeep’s problems with yet another superb opening spell, in which he conceded just three runs from two overs, but Masakadza and Chibhabha still put on 55 for the first wicket in good time.
They were separated when Chibhabha took Harbhajan on and Pandey held on to an excellent running catch at long-on, and from there, things fell apart for Zimbabwe. Patel dismissed both Masakadza, for 28, and Chigumbura in the next over, and the host never recovered any momentum from there on as Mohit Sharma conceded just eight runs in three parsimonious overs.
The last four overs were left to drift by with Zimbabwe’s tail fumbling around to try and salvage some dignity for the side. Prosper Utseya and Madziva helped themselves to a six apiece, but it was not even a consolation prize.
To see the full scorecard of this game, please click here.