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India vs Zimbabwe 1st T20I prediction: How will the first T20 shape up at Harare?

Does a change in the format change the fortunes of Zimbabwe when they take on India in the first T20? Predictions and analysis here.

KL Rahul
India would want to stamp their authority in the T20 series as well

The Zimbabwe-India T20 series begins on Saturday at the Harare Sports Club. The gulf between the two sides was humongous in the recently concluded ODI series and Zimbabwe would like to erase those bad memories by competing harder in the T20s.

The T20s may not be as lopsided as the ODIs were, simply because the lesser number of overs would help the unfancied hosts compete better. Having said that, will a horribly out-of-form Zimbabwe challenge India in this series is still a million dollar question.

Ntini & Co. would tell their boys to express themselves and play with a certain degree of freedom that they didn't seem to have in the ODIs. This approach could help some of their stroke-makers who were struggling big time against the new ball in the initial overs.

Also Read: Yuzvendra Chahal shows clever variation, crosses 100 kph mark to avoid getting hit off free hit

This format of Cricket would mean getting a move on and utilising the powerplay as soon as the batters get a hang of the conditions. Zimbabwe might lose some quick wickets in the process but the flipside could be getting some early runs on the board and keeping the pressure on the opposition.

Dhoni's men don't need to change anything even though the format of the game changes. They have been playing some authoritative cricket over the past one week, against a beleaguered opposition and Dhoni would want to inflict another whitewash on the hosts.

On the face of it, this looks like a no contest with India ranked no. 2 and Zimbabwe ranked an abysmal no. 12 in the ICC T20 rankings. Zimbabwe must bat second in a bid to change things around a little bit and for that Cremer would want to win the toss. In the last ODI even though Cremer called correctly he ended up opting to bat first, much to the delight of MS Dhoni. 

Venue: Harare Sports Club, Harare

Match Date: June 18, 2016

Match Timings: 1630 hrs IST

If Zimbabwe bat first

Predicted score: 125 or below

Zimbabwe should look at this series as a fresh start and forget about the humiliation they suffered in the ODIs. Easier said than done, but that is the only way for the hosts to look forward. If this means giving opportunities to the fringe players so be it.

Some of the players in the Zimbabwe camp are fairly experienced and they would need to do some soul searching before stepping onto the field on Saturday.

They would do well to open with two of their most experienced players Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda. Chamu Chibhabha must bat at no. 3 followed by Timycen Maruma and Malcolm Waller.

With Sean Williams and Craig Ervine ruled out of the series due to injuries, Zimbabwe could think of bringing in rookie Brian Chari to add some teeth to their depleted batting line-up.

Elton Chigumbura, the most capped player in the current team, seems to be giving the selectors plenty of headaches owing to his lack of form. He got golden ducks in the last couple of ODIs and will be on a hat-trick in this game for all the wrong reasons.

Zimbabwe cannot afford another middle order collapse and players like Richmond Mutumbami and Chigumbura need to mix caution with aggression when their turn comes towards the back end of the innings. Ideally, Zimbabwe would like to score somewhere around 145 to put some pressure on the Indians.

The bowlers would like to bowl in the right channels as the Indian batters have reaped rewards because of their inconsistent lines and lengths. Their inability to pick wickets has been exposed and they would want to be at least economical as T20 is one format where sometimes a dot ball is almost as precious as a wicket.

Tendai Chatara, Neville Madziva, and Donald Tiripano will try their best to dislodge the Indian top order early on. Skipper Graeme Cremer could also bowl a couple of overs in the powerplay to change things around.

If India bat first

Predicted score: 165 and above

Mandeep Singh could be given a game at the top of the order but it will be slightly unfair on Faiz Fazal if he is asked to sit out. KL Rahul will continue to open the innings. Ambati Rayudu and Manish Pandey occupy the no. 3 & 4 spots and given the frenetic format that T20 is, they could play a larger role if they come to the crease with adequate overs remaining.

MS Dhoni hasn’t had a bat for a while and he could be a little rusty. Same applies for Kedar Jadhav as well. Dhoni though has led the young side extremely well and his boys have responded to their skipper’s call in a fantastic manner.

There could be some room for experimentation on the bowling front with Jaydev Unadkat and Jayant Yadav waiting in the wings. It will be a like for like replacement if left arm seamer Unadkat is given a game in place of Barinder Sran.

Yuzvendra Chahal was quite impressive in the ODI series and he would want to continue his good form in a format he has excelled in previously. Jasprit Bumrah will be expected to bowl his pinpoint yorkers and stifle the opposition in the death.

We could be in for yet another dull, one-sided series as things are looking extremely bleak from Zimbabwe’s point of view at the moment. However, the players should continue to believe and must find some inspiration from somewhere in a bid to come back stronger. Saturday could be a good day to start afresh for the hosts!

Probable Winner: India

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