India Win ODI Series From Zimbabwe on Better Batting and Fine Bowling By Bhuvneshwar
The script in second ODI between India and Zimbabwe at Harare was nearly similar to the one in the first ODI. Elton Chigumbura won the toss and just as he had done in the first ODI, two days ago, asked India to bat first. India didn’t do anything spectacular but the 112-run first wicket stand between Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay enthused confidence in India’s batting. Murali Vijay atoned for his failure in first ODI by top scoring with 72 and getting player-of-the-match award and Rahane also scored a useful 63 to lay a solid foundation for others to chip in with reasonably good contribution. But the score of 271/8 couldn’t have been called challenging. Zimbabwe could have overhauled the 272-run victory target but Bhuvneshwar Kumar came in their way. The Indian speedster rocked the middle order and then came back to polish the tail and played his role in Zimbabwe’s collapse to 209 in 49 overs. India won by 62 runs and took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match ODI series.
Indians had known about the nature of the Harare pitch in the first game itself. They batted first once again after Elton Chigumbura won the toss and chose to field first. Even when runs were difficult to come by on the slow pitch, openers Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay wanted to protect the wicket and avoided adventurous shot-making. But their 26-over long stay for 112 runs resulted in a scoring rate of just over 4 runs. After Rahane fell to a ballooned up edge in covers after scoring 63 off 83 balls, Ambati Rayudu joined Vijay. The rate of scoring picked up in next 7-8 overs as Rayudu and Vijay added 47 runs for the second wicket before Vijay lost his wicket. Manoj Tiwary proved a good company for Rayudu as two of them took the score past 200 with a 44-run stand for third wicket. India still had 8 overs, when Rayudu fell as the third wicket at 203. But Tiwary followed him soon. Robin Uthappa failed for second time in the series and India were down to 233/5 in the 46th over. When it looked the repeat of the first ODI all over again, Stuart Binny and Kedar Jadhav swung their bats to add 31 for sixth wicket and India finished with 271/8 after 50 overs.
When Zimbabwe came to chase the 272-run victory target, they were pushed back by the slow Harare pitch as run-scoring became torturous. Opener Vusi Sibanda fell after playing Dhawal Kulkarni straight into the hand of Vijay at point and Bhuvneshwar Kumar dismissed Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura in quick succession to reduce Zimbabwe to 43/3 in 11 overs. The only Zimbabwe batsman, who kept his head down was Chamu Chibhabha. But India was not threatened as Chibhabha allowed plenty of dot balls and never looked like dominating Indian bowling. Kumar had taken 2/19 in his first spell of 6 overs. After 20 overs, Zimbabwe were 79/3 and they needed 6.5 runs per over for victory. With Chibhabha unable to score freely, there was hardly any other batsman, who could bring Zimbabwe back into the contest. Sean Williams took 37 balls for his 20 runs, Sikandar Raza 22 for 18, Richmond Mutumbami 41 for 32 runs and Graeme Cremer took 42 balls for 27. With every passing over, the asking rate kept mounting since no one could jack up scoring. Bhuvneshwar Kumar took two more wickets and finished with a creditable 4/33 in 10 overs. Chibhabha’s 100-ball 72 served only as a statistically relevant contribution and with the fight going out of the Zimbabweans, they were all out for 209 in 49 overs. The 62-run victory in the second ODI also gave India the series win with one match left on July 14, 2015.
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