After a brief deviation from the norm, India’s tour of Zimbabwe returned to familiar territory with the visitors making light work of the home side and racing to a series-levelling 10-wicket win in the second Twenty20 International in Harare on Monday (June 20).
Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to bat, but that was pretty much the only thing that went their way as a disciplined Indian attack kept them to 99 for 9 in 20 overs. The 100-run target was never going to test India’s batsmen and their openers, Mandeep Singh (52 not out) and KL Rahul (47 not out), completed the formalities in just 13.1 overs.
The architects of India’s thumping win – it was their first 10-wicket win in T20Is – were the pace duo of Barinder Sran and Jasprit Bumrah. Sran, making his debut, blew away Zimbabwe’s top order and ended with stunning figures of 4-0-10-4 – all four wickets coming inside the Power Play – while Bumrah took care of the tail, finishing with 3 for 17.
Zimbabwe’s batsmen had combined for a good effort in the first game, but they reverted to their impatient ways on Monday. India’s bowlers no doubt kept things tight throughout the innings, but Zimbabwe’s batsmen seemed to be in too much of a hurry and repeatedly succumbed to ill-advised strokes.
India was also aided by some sharp catching, despite a couple of tough chances going down. The tone for the innings was set as early as the third over when a brilliant take by Ambati Rayudu gave Sran his first T20I wicket. Chamu Chibhabha had tried to go over mid-on but Rayudu back-pedalled to grab a well-judged overhead catch.
The left-arm pacer celebrated the milestone with a dream follow-up over where he ripped through the heart of Zimbabwe’s batting line-up with three more wickets. Hamilton Masakadza swung and missed at a straight ball, Sikandar Raza steered to gully for a sharp catch and Tinotenda Mutombodzi was trapped lbw first ball.
The score, 28 for 4 then, could have turned 35 for 5 but Manish Pandey put down a straightforward catch at point to give Malcolm Waller an early reprieve. Waller consolidated for a while but threw it away against Yuzvendra Chahal’s leg spin, driving him straight to extra cover.
The only one who showed a bit of resolve was Peter Moor. The No. 3 batsman took his time but held one end firm. A lot depended on him and Elton Chigumbura, Zimbabwe’s hero in the previous game, but the return of Bumrah ended any hope of a first-game like a revival.