ZIMBABWE might have achieved their objective of being competitive against India, but never came close to causing an upset as the reigning world champions cruised to a six-wicket win in the opening match of the Celkom one-day international (ODI) series at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Indian captain Virat Kholi was named man-of-the-match after leading his side’s run chase from the front with a match-winning knock of 115 off 108 balls as the tourists comfortably chased down Zimbabwe’s target of 228 for seven.
Kholi’s innings overshadowed Sikandar Raza’s career-best knock of 82 runs off 112 deliveries and his compatriot Ambati Rayudu’s half century on debut as it ensured India reached 230/4 to win with 31 balls to spare.
Having earlier won the toss and elected to field, Kholi’s decision paid dividends as his bowlers managed to restrict Zimbabwe to a gettable target with leg spinner Amit Mishra claiming three wickets.
Raza, who hit six fours and two sixes in his knock shared a 72-run opening stand with Vusi Sibanda (34) before the partnership was broken in the 22nd over when the latter was trapped lbw. The decision to bring in Sean Williams at number three backfired as the left hander, who had scored consecutive 50s in his previous innings only managed 15 runs.
Skipper Brendan Taylor (11) and Hamilton Masakadza (12) all came and went without capitalising their starts which left Zimbabwe about 20 to 30 runs short after having earlier laid a solid foundation. Allrounder Elton Chigumbura’s knock of 43runs off 34 balls ensured Zimbabwe reached a respectable total after the middle order had failed to play the support role for Raza.
Taylor admitted that his charges could have put more runs on the board to challenge the Indians.
“The first hour was vital, We didn’t lose any wickets but we could have been a bit more proactive. Against a quality side like India we needed 270 on the board.
Sikandar Raza played very well, showing good composure despite having hardly played any games. Prosper Utseya was good with the ball and hopefully next time we can come out and express ourselves a little better,” said Taylor.
Having failed to post a steeper target, Zimbabwe needed their bowlers to make early inroads, which they did as Kyle Jarvis had the priced wicket of Shikar Dawan for just 17 in the sixth over.
Zimbabwe will be hoping to bounce back in the second ODI at the same venue tomorrow.