Ambati Rayudu scored a splendid ton in the 1st ODI against Zimbabwe, at Harare, to help India pocket a narrow 4 run victory. Rayudu’s 160 run stand for the 6th wicket with Stuart Binny (77 off 76) helped India recover from a precarious 87/5 and post a challenging total of 255/6 on the board. Zimbabwe fought hard and were in clear sight of victory in the last 5 overs. However, Bhuvneshwar Kumar brilliantly defended the 10 runs that the hosts needed to win in the last over. Elton Chigumbura’s marathon knock of 104* off 101 went in vain as his team missed the finishing line by just four runs!
India put into bat, top order collapses
It was an unpleasant start for India at Harare as they lost the wicket of opener Murali Vijay in the 4th over, with just 9 runs on the board. Skipper Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu steadied things with a 51-run stand for the 3rd wicket. Rahane’s dismissal in the 18th over proved disastrous for the visitors, who suffered a mini batting collapse thereafter. Manoj Tiwary and Kedar Jadhav walked back with single digit scores, and Robin Uthappa failed to open his account. India had lost half the side before the 25-over mark and managed to score only 87 runs.
Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny rescue India
With wickets falling at the other end, the onus was on Ambati Rayudu to keep his composure and take the initiative to steer the innings forward. He did that quite adroitly, and was lent valuable support by all-rounder Stuart Binny from the other end. The duo reconfigured the shabby scorecard in quick time and got India past the 250 run mark. Rayudu’s knock of 124 off 133 balls was punctuated by 12 fours and a six, while Binny hit 6 fours and a couple of sixes in his equally brilliant 77 off 76 balls.
Zimbabwe lose wickets at regular intervals, but stay in the hunt
Chasing 256 for victory, the hosts had a poor start to the chase as they lost opener Chamu Chibhbabha on the penultimate ball of the 5th over. Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza chipped in with 20(35) and 34(64) respectively to take Zimbabwe close to the 100-run mark. The scoring rate, however, was too slow for the occasion and called for a desperate facelift. And it arrived in the form of a quickfire 48-run stand for the 5th wicket, between Sikandar Raza and skipper Elton Chigumbura. Raza’s 33 ball 37 gave Zimbabwe some much needed impetus during the middle overs and helped them stay in the hunt. The skipper, at the other end, seemed to be clearly in the mood to play a long innings. Raza’s wicket fell in the 33rd over, and wicket-keeper batsman Richmond Mutumbami followed soon after with a single digit score and at 160/6 in the 38th over, the game looked well and truly over for the hosts. However, Chigumbura had other plans!
Elton Chigumbura wages lone battle, but India pull off slender win
Some undisciplined bowling and laxity in fielding standards of the Indians gave Zimbabwe some breathing space after the 40 over mark. Chigumbura led the charge with a fighting century, and was assisted by Graeme Cremer. The duo kept the home team alive in the chase, and never let the required run rate creep past 10. Chigumbura opened the floodgates in the last 5 overs as he hammed Dhawal Kulkarni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 13 and 14 runs respectively in the 47th and 48th over. Cremer lost his wicket on the last ball of the 49th over, while attempting an audacious reverse sweep off Kulkarni’s bowling. The skipper tried his best in the last over but was outwitted by Bhuvneshwar in a battle of nerves!
Man of the Match – Ambati Rayudu
Brief Scores – India (255/7 in 50 overs, Ambati Rayudu 124*(133), C Chibhabha 2/25) beat Zimbabwe (251/7 in 50 overs, Elton Chigumbura 104*(101), Axar Patel 2/41) by 4 runs