After the thrashing Zimbabwe received in the first one dayer a couple of days ago, not much was expected of them in the second match held on Friday. However, we all know that India have a tendency of faltering against the weakest of sides especially if the conditions are difficult. This is one of the reasons India possess a disappointing record in Zimbabwe. The second ODI saw India succumbing to the temptation again if only temporarily. They were found out in the batting department early on and also looked out of sync with the ball for a while. Thankfully for them Zimbabwe allowed them to claw back on both occasions.
The inexperience of the Zimbabweans is what let India off the hook at Harare. A stronger team would have seized the opportunity and kept India down on the mat. But, Zimbabwe lacked the skill and perhaps even the confidence to do so. Nothing else can explain the inability to allow India put up close to 300 in spite of having four batsmen back in the hut quickly. Had they only shown a little more resolve and composure, Zimbabwe could still have got the better of India. Then again, such talents are nurtured only with experience.
For the moment, the hosts would do well to count their positives. While one must admit that bowling first gave them a significant advantage, it is equally true that their opening bowlers made excellent use of the helpful surface. Brian Vitori was particularly impressive at the top, and he bowled two very good deliveries to get rid of Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu. Kyle Jarvis also contributed by sending back Indian skipper Virat Kohli albeit in controversial fashion. Tendai Chatara, who bowled first change, then ensured the pressure stayed on the opposition, also dismissing Suresh Raina.
Even when it was their turn to bat, Zimbabwe showed spurts of spark. Vusi Sibanda and Sikandar Raza featured in a breezy opening partnership, which threatened to undo India’s hardwork. The experienced duo of Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura efficiently played knocks to prove that Zimbabwe are not featuring in the tournament just because a cricket series is being organised. That’s not all, a lower order bat like Prosper Utseya also came up with a wonderfully composed, unbeaten half-century to reduce the margin of Zimbabwe’s defeat. Overall thus, there was plenty of gain for the home side from the loss.
It is in between all the good moments that Zimbabwe lost the match. They should have got centurion Shikhar Dhawan much earlier, but reprieved him on as many as three occasions. Like all hungry players, Dhawan made the bowling side pay dearly. Further, after the partnership between Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik was broken, Zimbabwe had another opening. Instead, they let the tailenders run riot. While batting, Zimbabwe were in a solid position at one stage, but collapsed almost inexplicably to hand the game to India on a platter. In short, it was more a case of Zimbabwe losing it than India winning it.
--By A Cricket Analyst