The Indian pacers made good use of the conditions to bowl out hosts Zimbabwe for a meagre 168 in the first One-day International of the three-match cricket series, here today.
The pace trio of Barinder Sran (2/42), Dhawal Kulkarni (2/42) and Jasprit Bumrah (4/28) responded well to their captain’s call by sharing the bulk of the wickets amongst themselves.
Zimbabwe, all out in 49.5 overs, would have found it tough to cross the 150-run mark if it was not for the efforts of Elton Chigumbura, who made a gritty 41 off 65 balls in his 200th ODI for his country.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, leading a youthful squad in the absence of seniors, had no hesitation in putting Zimbabwe in to bat at the Harare Sports Club.
Leggie Yuzvendra Chahal and batsman Karun Nair made their India debut while Lokesh Rahul was picked in an ODI eleven for the first time.
The Zimbabwe innings never got going with their batsmen struggling against the Indian pace battery.
It was an early morning start and the ball moved around. Sran, who did well in the IPL, was on the money from ball one. He could have had Chamu Chibhabha lbw on his very first ball the umpire thought the in-swinger did a bit too much.
The left-arm pacer, however, did not have to wait long for a wicket as he caught Chibhabha’s opening parter Peter Moor in front of the stumps with another inswinger.
The batsmen found scoring extremely difficult before Kulkarni had the experienced Hamilton Masakadza caught behind to make it 30 for two in ninth over.
Soon first change Bumrah made his presence felt by removing Chibhabha (13) and Vusi Sibanda. The Zimbabwe looked more comfortable against the spin but the Indian tweakers too ended up with tidy figures.
The hosts had lost half their side after Axar Patel sent back seasoned batsman Craig Ervine, leaving Zimbabwe reeling at 77 for five in 24 overs.
Zimbabwe would have found it difficult to cross the 150-run if it wasn’t for the sixth wicket stand between Chigumbura and Sikandar Raza (23), who shared a handy 38-run partnership.
Chahal, who was picked in the team after a productive IPL, bowled well on his ODI debut but had to wait as late as his 10th over to get off the mark in international cricket. His memorable moment arrived when he had Richmond Mutumbami caught at long-off.
All-rounder Chigumbura waged a lone fight as his partners succumbed at the other end. The innings highest-scorer also had a bit of luck on his side as he was out on a no-ball when Bumrah overstepped the line in 48th over.