India, riding on an all-round performance with both bat and ball, notched a 54 run win in the first t20 off two match series against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club.
In reply to India’s 178 Zimbabwe opening pair – Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha- scored 55 runs in eighth overs. Since then they never recovered as Harbhajan Singh and Axar Patel bamboozled them with their brisk offspin and left arm spin respectively. Axar and Harbhajan shared five wickets between themselves. Axar finished off with career best 3 for 17 and Harbhajan Singh took two wickets conceding 29 runs.
As Indian pacers failed to trouble Zimbabwe opening combo, Rahane called Harbhajan Singh and Axar Patel to play their part. From both the ends of the pitch Harbhajan and Axar bamboozled Zimbabwe by picking up four wickets in three overs.
Harbhajan Singh gave India first break through as Chamu Chibhabha was brilliantly caught by Manish Pandey at long on, and in the subsequent over Axar Patel scalped Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura lost their second wicket.
A brilliant piece throw from Mohit Sharma at sent Craig Ervine to the dressing room.
In the last two overs Neville Madziva played some big shots that helped Zimabwe to reduce the margin of defeat.
Earlier Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane winning the toss elected to bat first.
Indian opening pair Ajinkya Rahane and Murli Vijay scopred 64 runs in seven over.
After Vijay’s departure Robin Uthappa joined Ajinkya Rahane. But, he failed to keep pace of the innings as he was unbeaten on 39 off 35 balls.
When Rahane and Vijay were batting a target of 200 hundred was looking imminent. But, Zimbabwean bowlesr, who gave 25 runs in form of extras, bowled some decent deliveries in between 16 and 18 over, as debutant Manish Pandey, Kedar Yadav succumbed to the pressure. Chris Mpofu, who took three wickets conceding 33 runs, was the most successful bowler for the hosts.
Indian finally managed to post 178 for five on board.
India 178 for 5
Ajinkya Rahane (33), Murli Vijay(34), Robin Uthappa (39)
Best bowling figure – Chris Mpofu 3 for 33 in 4 overs
Zimbabwe 124 for 7
Hamilton Masakadza 28, Chamu Chibhabha 23
Axar Patel – 3 for 17 in 4 overs
Harbhajan Singh – 2 for 29 in 4 overs
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