Patel, Harbhajan spin India to win against Zimbabwe
Axar Patel (3/17) and Harbhajan Singh (2/29) bowled India to a convincing 54-run victory against Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 International at Harare Sports Club in Harare on Friday to take an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-match T20I series.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar started well upfront for India while Sandeep Sharma conceded 15 runs in his first over. Patel bowled with good control claim three top-order wickets, as India registered their first T20I win since 2014 T20 World Cup. However, they played just one game before this game though.
With this defeat, Zimbabwe have now lost 9 successive T20Is at Harare. Chasing a 179-run target, Zimbabwe got off to a flying start with openers Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha bringing up the team’s fifty in the seventh over, but India picked up 4 wickets in 17 balls to set the cat among the pigeons.
Harbhajan struck in his second over to give India the first breakthrough with Manish Pandey taking an excellent catch at long-on to dismiss Chamu Chibhabha (23). Harbhajan bowled a flighted delivery on the stumps, Chibhabha went for a big shot over wide long-on, mistimed it completely as it went off the outside half of the bat, Pandey ran to his left from long-on to take it before sliding onto the ground to place Zimbabwe at 55/1 in 8.1 overs. Patel delivered a double blow in his third over by dismissing Masakadza and captain Elton Chigumbura to rattle the Zimbabwean innings. Masakadza (28) tried to scoop a flighted delivery down the leg-side but the ball hit high on the bat and went straight to Kedar Jadhav at short fine leg, who didn’t have to move an inch to take the catch.
Patel took his second wicket when he clean bowled Chigumbura (1) with a faster one that sneaked through the Zimbabwean captain defence and shattered the middle stump as from 55/0, the hosts were reduced to 66/3 in 10 overs. Harbhajan took his second wicket in the next over by dismissing Charles Coventry (10) by having him caught by Ajinkya Rahane. Harbhajan bowled a flatter delivery on the leg stump, Coventry went for the flick, got a thick leading edge that went straight to Rahane at mid-wicket. Mohit Sharma then brought back memories of his run out of AB de Villiers in the World Cup league match with a brilliant direct hit to end the innings of Craig Ervine. Sikandar Raza flicked a Stuart Binny delivery to the vacant mid-wicket region, called for two runs and Ervine responded, but Mohit sprinted forward from deep mid-wicket, picked up the ball near the edge of the 30-yard-circle and hit the bull’s-eye at the bowler’s end even though he had one stump to aim at and was off balance while releasing the ball.
Good toss to win, pitch got slower in second innings: Rahane
India captain Ajinkya Rahane feels it was a good toss to win for the visitors in the first T20 International against Zimbabwe here because it was easier to bat in the first innings as the pitch got slower with time. Rahane lauded his batsmen for setting the platform for India’s 54-run win over Zimbabwe in the first T20 match here on Friday. “I think first of all we batted very well. We knew between 160 and 170 would be a good total and as I said at the toss, our spinners came handy. It (pitch) became a little slower later on, but still the bowlers had to do well,” said Rahane after Zimbabwe finished at 124 for seven while chasing India’s 178 for five at the Harare Sports Club. “There was no initial movement so it was slightly easier to bat in the first innings.