After a 3-0 whitwash in the ODI series against India, the Zimbabwe team found itself in shackles and facing a confident crisis from the Zimbabwe fans who wanted their team to showcase strong cricket against a well-ranked Indian cricket team led by MS Dhoni but it wasn’t to be. Anyhow it’s difficult for a minnow nation to straightaway come to winning terms against a well-recognized international side but the way that Zimbabwe went down was disheartening for the fact that they showed lack of fight – could they change around things in the t20 series?

T20 1 of 3 – Zimbabwe lead series 1-0

India vs Zimbabwe
Date 18 June 2016
Venue Harare Sports Club
168/6 (20)   170/6 (20)
Zimbabwe won by 2 runs

The toss went in favor of the Indian captain who opted to bowl, putting Zimbabwe to bat in the first t20 at Harare. The Indian team had 5 new caps in KL Rahul (ODI series man of the series), Rishi Dhawan, Mandeep Singh, Jaydev Unadkat and Chahal.

Having been put into bat the Zimbabwe side needed their top order to get them off to a stable start against the Indian bowling that has looked far superior to Zimbabwe batting, at least in the ODI series. Zimbabwe’s openers in Chibhabha and Masakadza led them to 33-0 in 4.3 overs before Masakadza got out to a peach of a delivery by Bumrah, caught behind by Dhoni. As if one wicket wasn’t enough to pull things back in India’s favor, the next batsman Mutumbami retired hurt for 0 off 4 balls and Zimbabwe yet again looked at a possible collapse.

Losing Chibhabha at the end of 7 overs meant that Zimbabwe now was 50-2 (3 out, 1 retired hurt), looking desperately for some run making from Raza and Waller.

Keeping calm under immensely desperate situation, the pairing of Raza and Waller got the scoreboard ticking and par to a respectable total, at 98-3 the dismissal of Raza came at a very wrong time. Waller fell soon enough and at 130-6, Zimbabwe looked to be in check for a score under 160. Not to be though, courtesy of some lusty blows from Zimbabwe’s ex-captain in Chigumbura who made a 26 ball 54 which got Zimbabwe to an aggressive first inning total of 170 for the loss of 6 wicket in their 20 overs.

In their revert, the Indian team lost it’s man-in-form in KL Rahul for a  duck off his first ball, a start not at all desired by the Indians. The debutant in Mandeep Singh was made to open and he along with Rayudu started to form a partnership which lasted 44 runs before Rayudu got out for 19.

Mandeep fell in the 8th over after a 27 ball 31 but he was followed up by some crucial run-making from Manish Pandey who kept the increasing run rate in check, Jadhav’s 13 ball 19 also ensured that India didn’t sweat much to keep Zimbabwe on their toes but were we looking at a final twist in the match, upon fall of Jadhav in the 13th over, with the score at 90.

Pandey kept the ante going with his strategic gameplay that relied on quick singles and doubles and requiring just 29 from 18 – India looked the clear favorites but the 18th over from Muzarabani resulted in the fall of the well-settled Manish Pandey and an ecstatic Heath Streak in the commentary box said “it’s 1 up Zimbabwe).

Axar Patel hit one six in the over and India were still very much in control. The 19th over proved to be expensive from Tiripano, with a four and a six from Axar Patel, leaving just 8 to get off the last over.

The 1st ball of the 20th over was guided by Dhoni through the off-side for a single, but a spirited Madziva got the better off Patel on the next ball – out on the long-off boundary.

Dhoni crossed and nudged the next ball for a single too – was he being too cautious! The 4th ball was a dot played by Dhawan (Rishi), the next was guided to a single and requiring now 4 off the last ball – the Indian captain needed a fairy tale ending, the best finisher of the game perhaps had too much on his plate and he could only manage a single. Thus resulting in a momentous victory for the Zimbabweans who will find a lot of hearts from this victory after a disappointing ODI series – the Zimbabwe fans ignited with joy in the stand were ecstatic by this nail-biting 2 run victory.

Fact : This is India’s second consecutive loss to Zimbabwe in t20’s, they also lost to the hosts the last time that they traveled to play here.

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