After a complete domination in the ODI series, India were wary of a backlash from Zimbabwe during the opening match of the T20I leg at Harare. In a bid to test out a few more players, Mandeep Singh, Rishi Dhawan and Jaydev Unadkat got debuts in the shortest format.
Skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to chase on a surface which was conducive for strokeplay. When it seemed like the Zimbabwean batting lineup were once again going to implode, Elton Chigumbura finally recaptured his form and smashed a 26-ball 54 to lead the hosts to a formidable total.
India got off the worst possible start with KL Rahul sent back in the very first ball off the innings. However, Manish Pandey strung useful partnerships with the other top-order batsmen to get the visitors close to the target. With 4 required off the last delivery, the unheralded Neville Madviza outsmarted Dhoni to take Zimbabwe to a famous victory and go 1-0 up in the 3-match series.
Let us take a look at how the Indian players fared in the tense contest.
Axar Patel – 8/10
The standout bowler on show, Axar’s impeccable control, and sustained pressure turned out to be valuable for Dhoni in the middle-overs. The left-arm spinner judged the surface smartly and his stump to stump line was too difficult for the batsmen to execute big hits. Before he threw his wicket away, Patel threatened to take the game away from the home side.
Jasprit Bumrah – 7.5/10
The leader of the bowling attack, Bumrah continued his progress with the new-ball. After a canny off-cutter saw the back of Hamilton Masakadza, the seamer returned in the death overs and began promisingly. Though he went for runs in the final over, the right-armer proved to be impressive on a flat deck.
Manish Pandey – 7/10
One of the rising stars in the batting department, Manish Pandey played responsibly and set the platform for the chase. Though wickets fell around him, the right-hander from Karnataka kept the scoreboard ticking by rotating the stroke. When he was in prime position to impose himself on the opposition, a fatigued shot ended his stay at the crease.
Mandeep Singh – 6/10
The diminutive right-hander from Punjab played some exquisite shots to raise expectations of a significant knock. Mandeep even had the rub of the green when he was dropped on 7. However, the 24-year old could not make the most of it and was caught brilliantly at long-off while attempting another extravagant stroke.
Yuzvendra Chahal – 5.5/10
One of the finds of the tour, so far, Chahal had posed all sorts of problems to the Zimbabweans in the ODIs. On a pitch which did not suit his style of bowling, the leg-spinner failed to adjust quickly. Despite getting rid of a well-set Malcolm Waller with a googly, the youngster bore the brunt of Chigumbura’s onslaught and was carted around for three maximums.
Ambati Rayudu – 5/10
After Dhoni, Rayudu was the most experienced limited-overs batsman in the Indian line-up. Constantly finding himself on the fringes of the main squad, the 30-year old had a fruitful ODI series. In this one though, he could not carry the bat and departed by playing a wild heave across the line. Despite a few crisp boundaries, the situation was tailor-made for him to take responsibility.
Kedar Jadhav – 5/10
Though he was part of the eleven in all three ODIs, Jadhav did not get to bat even once. A consistent domestic performer, the hard-hitter walked into a tantalizing situation. Running hard between the wickets, the Maharashtra batsman also smashed a humongous six. His innings was cut short by an almighty slog and the consequent chop on.
MS Dhoni – 4/10
A man renowned for pulling off seemingly impossible chases, Dhoni could not guide his team home this time. After a below-par captaincy effort, India needed the services of the seasoned campaigner. But, ‘Captain Cool’ labored to a 17-ball 19 and was unable to fire at the end overs.
Jaydev Unadkat – 3.5/10
After conceding only a run from his first over, Unadkat’s day took a turn for the worse. Masakadza took full toll on a couple of loose deliveries as the seam bowler’s lack of match practice showed. Summoned in the penultimate over, the left-armer once again struggled to find the right length and was taken apart.
Rishi Dhawan – 3/10
A rare seam bowling all-rounder in the Indian set-up, Dhawan was given the second over by his skipper. But, the 26-year old‘s back of the length deliveries just sat up due to lack of pace. Apart from a well-disguised leg-cutter, he could not quite find his rhythm and paid the price for it. With the bat in hand, Rishi looked short of ideas and succumbed to the pressure.
KL Rahul – 1/10
Rahul today learned that cricket was a great leveler when he succumbed to a first-ball duck. Coming into the game on the back of prolific performance in the ODIs, the stylish right-hander tried a late dab to third man and could only manage to inside edge the away-swinger on to the stumps.