ZIMBABWE failed to capitalise on yet another promising start as India exposed the gulf between the two teams to win the second One Day International cricket match by 58 runs and take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Chasing a steep 295 runs for a shock victory, Zimbabwe seemed to be going along nicely as they rode on the back of a half century by Vusi Sibanda to be well-placed on 109 for two in the 21st over.
They, however, undid all the early hard work by losing their next five wickets for just 24 runs, with Indian seamer Jaydev Unadkat being the chief tormenter after claiming four wickets for 41 runs in his allotted 10 overs.
Even Prosper Utseya’s unbeaten half century and Elton Chigumbura’s fighting 46 could not save the day for Zimbabwe as they finished on 236 for nine from their allotted 50 overs.
It was the same script for the hosts in their bowling as they also flattered to deceive after they had earlier won the toss and elected to field.
Zimbabwe’s bowlers started brightly as they had the Indians under early pressure in the bowling friendly conditions only to let themselves down with their fielding.
After seamer Brian Vitori had Rohit Sharma out for just one run with his first delivery, further early wickets of Virat Kholi (14), Suresh Raina(4) and Ambati Rayudu (5) by the seamers inside the first 14 overs left the Indians with their backs firmly against the wall.
Zimbabwe however let explosive Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan off the hook three times from some poor fielding and he punished them with a career-best knock 116 runs which steered his side a competitive 294 for eight in their allotted 50 overs.
India would not have expected to come anywhere close to this sort of target after their top order struggled against the Zimbabwe pacers after being sent in to bat.
At 65 for four, with Dhawan having had two lives, India were under immense pressure but they turned the innings around thanks to a 167-run stand between Dinesh Karthik and Dhawan.
Dhawan was dropped twice on 14 by Taylor and later on 46 runs by Waller after he was earlier caught behind off as front foot no-ball by Jarvis while on three runs.
Zimbabwe’s run-chase started brightly as Sibanda reached his half century off 57 deliveries with a big six over long on as he led Zimbabwe’s fight back after they lost Sikandar Raza for 20 runs in the 11th over.
Sibanda (55) struck seven fours and two sixes, sharing 64 runs second wicket partnership stand with Hamilton Masakadza.
Having played so well, Sibanda however needlessly gifted his wicket away when he directed Unadkat short pitched delivery straight to midwicket to depart for 55 runs.
Taylor was soon followed by Sean Williams, who scored just five runs before he was trapped lbw while Waller managed just two runs.
An 88 run-partnership Utseya and Chigumbura only delayed the imminent as India were already within touching distance of a win.
Meanwhile, the fourth ODI of the ongoing series between India and Zimbabwe, has been postponed by a day, on account of elections next Wednesday.
The match will now be played at the Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, on Thursday, August 1, instead of the original date, July 31.
The fifth match will be played as per schedule on August 3 at Bulawayo, starting at 1230 IST. The third ODI will be played in Harare tomorrow before they move to Bulawayo for the last matches of the series.