2nd ODI, Zimbabwe vs India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co look to seal series
In the past, India have registered back-to-back whitewashes against Zimbabwe — 5-0 and 3-0 in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
Harare: A resounding opening win setting the tone perfectly for them, the new-look Indian cricket team will look to continue in the same vein and take another step towards a potential whitewash of Zimbabwe when the two sides clash in the second cricket ODI here on Monday.
It was a clinical display by India as they outclassed Zimbabwe in all departments in a lop-sided opener of the three-ODI series and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men will eye another fine outing tomorrow.
If it was young seamer Jasprit Bumrah, who shone with the ball with a four-wicket haul to shoot out the hosts for a modest 168, opener Lokesh Rahul helped the team chase down the target with an unbeaten century on his debut ODI.
Rahul, who will also be boarding the flight to West Indies for the Test series in August, will look to accumulate as many runs as possible to boost his confidence ahead of the series.
Ambati Rayudu too did his job perfectly, playing second fiddle to Rahul with an unbeaten 120-ball 62 which was studded with five boundaries.
The innings must have helped him regain his confidence, especially after being dropped from the team following the home series against South Africa last year and he will look to continue the good work.
In the past, India have registered back-to-back whitewashes against Zimbabwe — 5-0 and 3-0 in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Dhoni's men will eye another clean-sweep and would look to take another step in that direction tomorrow.
In the bowling department, India have shown discipline with all the five bowlers figuring among the wickets. If Dhawal Kulkarni and Barinder Sran scalped two wickets each, spinners Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal too picked up a wicket each and were economical too to help their team.
Given that India won by nine wickets, it means the middle-order didn't get a chance to spend time on the crease and prove their worth and they would be itching to grab their chances with both hands.
Someone like Manish Pandey, who had scored his maiden ODI century against Australia in the fifth match in January, will be waiting for his chance to impress the selectors and stake claim to Suresh Raina's place when India will be playing their real first XI in future.
Karun Nair too will look to show that he is not just an IPL player and has the ability to score in international cricket as well.
It will be interesting to see if Dhoni sticks to the playing XI or gives a maiden India ODI cap to the other players such as off-spinner Jayant Yadav, left-handed opener Faiz Fazal and right-handed middle-order batsman Mandeep Singh, who warmed the bench in the first game.
For India skipper Dhoni — the most experienced in the team — who is playing in the African nation after 11 long years, it is an opportunity to get into the mix as he won't be playing a lot in the next few months, considering that India have a Test heavy home schedule this year.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, have always been plagued by inconsistency. Their team is not too high on skills and even though some good players have emerged from their ranks, they are still too dependent on Elton Chigumbura.
Chigumbura became only the third Zimbabwean player after Flower brothers — Andy (213 ODIs)and Grant (221 ODIs) — to complete a coveted landmark of 200 ODIs yesterday.
The most experienced player for the hosts, top-scored with 65-ball 41 in the opening game but he will have to stay on the crease longer if Zimbabwe have to post a decent total on board.
Apart from him, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha are the other senior players in the team and they have to step up if the hosts have to pose any threat to Indian bowlers.
Alexander Cremer has taken 74 wickets in 62 ODIs, the second highest wicket-taker after Chigumbura (101 wickets), and he too will have to find a way to stop the rampaging Indians.
Sikandar Raza, Craig Ervine and Sean Williams are some of the other names who will look to step up to challenge this new Indian side.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C and WK), KL Rahul, Faiz Fazal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni, Axar Patel.
Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (C), Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Neville Madziva, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Wellington Masakadza, Peter Moor, Twanada Mupariwa, Richard Mutumbami (WK), Taurai Muzarabani, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Sean Williams.
Match starts: 12:30 pm IST.