India 173 for 1 (Rahul 100*, Rayudu 62*) beat Zimbabwe 168 (Chigumbura 41, Bumrah 4-28) by nine wickets.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Zimbabwe cricket team began life after Dav Whatmore in an all too familiar fashion after a nine wicket thrashing at the hands of a second string Indian side in the first of the three-match Killer Cup One Day International series at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Interim coach Makhaya Ntini, who on Friday had boldly promised to sweep an under-strength India under the carpet in his first-ever match in charge, was made to eat his words as the visitors put up a polished performance.
Debutant opener Lokesh Rahul starred with the bat, scoring an impressive unbeaten 100 in 115 balls as India chased down a modest 169 target with relative ease.
Rahul, who enjoyed a 162 run second wicket partnership with Ambati Rayudu, became only the first Indian batsman to score an ODI century and the second a half century on debut.
On the other hand, rising bowling star Jasprit Bumrah snared four wickets for 28, his best figure in ODI cricket to set up the Indian for an empathic win
Zimbabwe came into the match barely two weeks after sacking Whatmore from the head coach role and elevating South African bowling legend Ntini as well as appointing Graeme Cremer the new captain.
With Ntini opting to include eight batsmen in the team at the expense of bowlers, MS Dhoni winning the toss may have ruined his plan.
Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first looking to take advantage of the favourable seam bowling conditions and it immediately paid off.
Opener Peter J Moor, who was partnering Chamu Chibhabha, was heading back to the pavilion in no time after being undone by Barinder Sran’s swing that trapped him in front of middle stump, out leg before wicket for just three runs in the second over.
Zimbabwe had only eight runs on the board. Former captain Masakadza came into the fray and kept the scoreboard ticking until he nicked Dhawal Kulkarni through to Dhoni, leaving the hosts 30/2 in the second.
Wickets kept tumbling for Zimbabwe as Chibhabha (13) Vusi Sibanda (5) all going cheap and Ervine out for 21 caught by substitute fielder Fazal tried to clear the boundary at wide long on off the bowling of Axar Patel, leaving Zimbabwe reeling at 77/5after 24 overs.
Chigumbura joined Sikandar Raza on the creases and the two attempted to sew a partnership which was threatening to pull the innings out of the fire, but Raza fell for 23 off Sran’s.
Raza and Chigumbura’s 38 run partnership was the highest for Zimbabwe.
Chigumbura was lucky not to follow immediately after he was caught by Patel at deep mid-wicket in the next over, but the bowler Bhumra overstepped in the 48th over. However, the bowler would eventually get his man in the final over, this time clean bowling the hosts’ top scorer for 41.
Chatara was Bumrah’s fourth wicket, caught by Ambati Ruyudu after skying one up looking for a big shot in the penultimate ball of the innings, as the bowler recorded his best figures in ODI cricket.
Zimbabwe in the end set a gettable target of 169.
India began the chase with debutantes Lokesh Rahul and Kuran Nair while Tendai Chatara, playing his first ODI match since the 2015 ICC World Cup following a lengthy injury lay off, opened the bowling for Zimbabwe.
Chatara immediately accounted for Nair for 7 in his third over with Raza, taking a brilliant catch at short cover with run tally at 11 for the visitors.
After a more circumspect start to their partnership, the two batsmen upped the tempo after a drinks break.
Rahul found a gap past point in the 23rd over off the bowling of Cremer to become only the second Indian opener after Robin Uthappa to score a half-century on ODI debut.
Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura as well as Raza had to contribute with the ball but they all struggled to put the Indian batsmen under any sort of pressure.