Harare: Zimbabwe’s performance in the first ODI on Saturday, most dismal as they folded for 168 in 49.5 overs. That India had to chase 169 owed to the good work from the five bowlers used by Dhoni, whose decision to field on a chilly morning – play began at 9am local time – worked out well.
Twenty extras, two dropped catches and Jasprit Bumrah‘s three front-foot no-balls were in the end a blemish. Six Zimbabwe batsmen made it to double-figures, but none crossed 41 as India controlled proceedings from the time Peter Moor edged the first delivery of the game to third man for a single.
In reply, India’s start was slow, much like Zimbabwe’s had been, but the difference was that they didn’t lose as many wickets. Rahul – who got going with a crackling punch off the back foot in the seventh over – mixed watchful defense with the odd well-timed drive to remain relatively uncluttered, unlike Rayudu who pottered about 36 balls for his first nine runs and was beaten repeatedly by some very nagging medium-pace. Rahul also had a couple of problems against Zimbabwe’s stream of bustling medium-pacers, once saved by an inside edge off Tendai Chatara and another time miscuing Chigumbura over mid-off, but maintained a healthy run-rate. He never looked out of depth, perhaps an indication of the confidence that comes with two Test hundreds and a transformational IPL. Rahul’s fifty needed 57 deliveries.