Bulawayo: Zimbabwe thrashed India by 6 wickets in the opening fixture of the Micromax tri-series which also features Sri Lanka as the third team.
Chasing a seemingly stiff target of 286 runs, Zimbabwe romped home with 10 balls to spare as lackluster Indians paid the price for their sloppiness in the field.
Craig Ervine did the star-turn for the hosts with a polished unbeaten 67 off just 60 balls after opener Brendan Taylor, with a solid 81 early on, had laid the foundation for a successful chase.
Charles Coventry (37 runs off 25 balls) and Elton Chigumbura (24 not-out off 16 balls) chipped in with vital cameos to seal an emphatic victory for Zimbabwe.
India’s bid for victory looked to have received a shot in the arm when the in-form Taylor fell for 81 runs, missing out on a well-deserved century.
Taylor became Vinay Kumar’s maiden ODI victim when he pulled a short delivery to Umesh Yadav at third-man.
His 103-ball essay contained 4 boundaries and 2 sixes.
With the run-rate dropping at less than 5 per over after 38 overs, India seemed to be in the driver’s seat.
But Ervine and Coventry, who blasted 3 sixes, and later skipper Chigumbura, poured water on India’s aspirations.
India post 281/5
In the afternoon, riding on a brilliantly paced century by Rohit Sharma, India posted a formidable 285/5 from their allotted 50 overs after Suresh Raina had won the toss and elected to bat first in the first ODI of the tri-series at Bulawayo.
The usually flamboyant Indian batsmen were made to grind for their runs in face of some disciplined spin bowling by Zimbabwe bowlers for most part of their innings.
But Rohit Sharma, who took 87-balls to reach his half-century, cut lose in the 10 final that fetched more than a hundred runs for India, who were 177/4 after 40 overs.
Rohit Sharma eventually fell for 114 runs in the 48th over when his slog to a good-length delivery ended-up as a top edge to Taylor behind the stumps.
This was his first three figure knock in ODIs and was studded with 6 fours and 4 sixes. His knock lasted 119 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja too chipped in with an unbeaten run-a-ball 61 as the Indian innings ended with a flourish.
Earlier, twin run-outs of Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli pegged India back, offsetting the solid start they had managed in the match.
Thanks to a wayward fourth over of the match bowled by Chigumbura that leaked in 26 runs including 16 extras, Indian openers Vijay and Dinesh Karthik and propelled India to a decent start as India brought up their 50 in just the seventh over.
But introduction of spin saw a dip in the scoring pace.
Zimbabwe got their lucky break when Vijay made a lazy attempt to return to the crease after tapping the ball to square leg.
Vijay was caught napping as wicket-keeper Taylor smartly dislodged the bails.
He made just 11 runs from 24 balls.
Kohli fell without facing a ball when Chigumbura’s accurate throw found his short of the crease in the very next over as India, after the first 10 overs, were wobbling at 57/2.
An inside-edge to the wicket-keeper off the bowling of Proper Utseya brought curtains to Karthik’s stay that had lasted 39 balls and yielded 22 runs.
After 16 overs, India was 69/3.
India then lost captain Suresh Raina when the stand-in skipper’s upper cut off a bouncer found it’s place in wicket-keeper Taylor’s gloves.
Raina had contributed 37 runs from 53 balls to the Indian total, forging a stabilizing 67 run-partnership with Rohit until Mpofu undid his hard work.
Rohit and Jadeja then took over the repair work to give India a total of respectability.
However, India’s debutant trio struggled to get the early breakthrough as chasing 282 for victory, Zimbabwean openers Masakadza and Taylor accosted their team past 50 runs in just the 8th over.
The pair were going great guns until the 13th over when Amit Mishra cleaned up Masakadza with a fine ‘slider.
He made 46 runs off just 43 deliveries.
Lamb and Taylor then put on 63 runs for the second wicket before Jadeja struck. He made 27 runs from 43 balls.
India: Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Vinay Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav
Zimbabwe: Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Greg Lamb, Craig Ervine, Charles Coventry, Elton Chigumbura, Andy Blignaut, Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Ray Price, Chrisopher Mpofu