Clinical Zimbabwe upset India in tri-series opener

Bulawayo, May 28 (IANS) An uninspiring young Indian outfit were shocked by Zimbabwe who handed down a six-wicket defeat in the opening One-day International of the tri-series cricket here Friday.

India set a tough winning target of 286 runs with Rohit Sharma (114) scoring his maiden ODI century and Ravindra Jadeja making run-a-ball 61. The two added 132 runs for the fifth wicket after India were reduced to 128 for four in 30 overs.

Zimbabwe batsmen in a clinical performance chased down the total with 10 balls to spare.

Openers Brendan Taylor (81 off 103 balls) and Hamilton Masakadza (46 off 43 balls) laid a strong foundation for the chase, smashing 88 runs in 13 overs.

Debutant Craig Ervine (67 not out) and Charles Coventry (32 off 25) then held the reins in the middle overs with a 55-run stand for the fourth wicket. Captain Elton Chigumbura struck an unbeaten 16-ball 24 with the help of four fours and together with Ervine guided the team to a resounding victory.

Taylor, who hit four fours and two sixes, played some good strokes while Masakadza was punishing, hitting five fours and one six in his 43-ball 46.

The inexperienced Indian bowling attack was lacklustre. All the three pacers Ashok Dinda, Vinay Kumar (2-51) and Umesh Yadav were making their ODI debut and failed to impress with the new ball.

Apart from Sharma and Jadeja, the batting, too, was uninspiring. In fact, had it not been for the death over blitz by Jadeja and Sharma, India would have been restricted well below 250. Sharma plundered his last 69 runs off 36 balls as India made 115 runs in the last 11 overs.

Suresh Raina, leading the team in absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, elected to bat, but India struggled at the start. Dinesh Karthik (22 off 39 balls) and Murali Vijay (11) added 56 runs in nine overs before they were rocked by a series of wickets.

Zimbabwe bowlers made a jittery start with Chigumbura, who like Raina was leading the team for the first time, bowling a 12-delivery fourth over, conceding 26 runs with 17 extras, but they later settled to a good line and length.

Zimbabwe slow bowlers did a fine job, restricting the Indian batsmen in the middle overs and also taking wickets.

There was some sloppy running between the wickets from the Indian side as Vijay and Virat Kohli were both run out. Dinesh Karthik edged a wide ball from Prosper Usteya while Raina too chased a wide and short delivery way outside the off stump only to be caught by wicket-keeper Taylor.

Sharma then played a sensible innings with Jadeja at the other end. His 119-ball innings had six fours and four sixes to take India to a challenging total.