MS Dhoni led India will meet Zimbabwe on Saturday in Harare to kickstart the three-match ODI series between the two teams. While the last two series between the two teams were one sided, this series can be different given that India has rested all its major players to give young players a chance to find their feet in ODIs.
In the past, matches between the two countries have produced some amazing performances. Sachin Tendulkar, as so often, leads the run charts in encounters between the two teams with 1377 runs at an average of 49, while Ajit Agarkar heads the bowling charts with 47 wickets in 26 Indo-Zimbabwe encounters.
Here are some interesting facts and statistics from India-Zimbabwe meetings in ODIs.
1. The ground on which Kapil Dev scored 175 hasn’t seen international cricket after that match
While most of the cricket fans would know that there exist no moving images of Kapil Dev’s 175 against Zimbabwe due to a strike by BBC on that day, not many know that the scenic ground on which the spectacular knock was played has only hosted one ODI to date and it was this World Cup tie between the two teams.
Yes, the cricket ground named after Marquess of Abergavenny (family name of Nevill) which was witness to one of the most enthralling displays of batting has never seen any international cricket action after that match in 1983.
The Nevill Ground is one of the smallest cricket grounds in terms of capacity as it can hold not more than 4,000 people at a time. The English county Kent still plays its cricket on this ground and piled a massive 688 in their county fixture against Essex last season.
However, chances of international cricket returning to the ground look bleak, specially in times when the crowds are expanding massively.
2. India and Zimbabwe have played 2 Tied ODIs
Long before India-Zimbabwe ties became dull and drab affairs, the two teams produced high-octane matches in the 90’s and 2000’s. The two countries have been involved in two ties as well as two one-wicket victories. The first tie came when the two teams met in Indore in 1993. Manoj Prabhakar‘s 91 and 2 wickets weren’t enough as Zimbabwean middle order ensured that they always remained in the hunt.
In the end, Heath Streak, playing only in his third match, failed to complete the double that would have taken his team across the line and the match ended in a tie.
Two matches but 4 years later, the two team again played a thriller at Paarl. Robin Singh had played a whirlwind knock to turn the match in India’s favor before his partner Venkatesh Prasad made a schoolboy error to get Singh run out on the last ball of the match.
As it turned out, there was still a ball left as the ball on which India had lost their last wicket was a wide one that had levelled the scores.
In 2000, Zimbabwe earned their first victory on Indian soil after they pipped the hosts by 1 run with one ball left in a high scoring encounter, more famous for Zaheer Khan’s four consecutive sixes off Henry Olonga than Sachin’s 27th ton.
On their next trip to India, the Zimbabweans pulled off a thrilling victory again when they came back from nowhere to win the match with two balls to spare, courtesy the heroics of Douglas Marillier, who unleashed his unorthodox ‘Marillier shot’ against Indian bowlers to good effect.
3. India’s fastest ODI fifty came against Zimbabwe
It was an inconsequential match at Rajkot between the two teams as India had already gained an unassailable lead of 3-1 in the 5-match series going into the match. But Ajit Agarkar wasn’t taking it lightly for sure.
Joining Reetinder Sodhi in the 44th over at 216 for 6, the lanky pacer started smashing bowlers all around the park from the word go. Seeing his bowlers thrashed around the park, skipper Alistair Campbell took it upon himself to bowl the final over of the innings but ended up giving 21 runs in the process.
Ajit Agarkar notched up the fastest fifty by an Indian when he reached his 50 off 21 balls and beat Kapil Dev’s 17-year-old record. He finished with an unbeaten 67 off 25 balls that took the team’s total past 300.
The bowler then returned to take three wickets to complete a perfect all-round performance. What makes this match more trivia worthy is that this was the last ODI in the history of One Dayers that was played in whites.
4. India-Zimbabwe encounter held the record for most extras given in an ODI, briefly
Umpire Dave Orchard and Peter Willey found themselves busier than usual when India and Zimbabwe collectively equalled a record they wouldn't have liked to in their 1999 World Cup match at Leicester. In the match, that’s now remembered for Henry Olonga’s last over miracle and Indian batting’s brain freeze, the two teams gave away 90 runs in extras, equalling the record that came in a match between West Indies and Pakistan in 1989.
Indians, clearly struggling with the newly introduced Duke Balls gave 51 extras including 21 wides and 16 no balls. The Zimbabweans almost returned the favor by giving 39 runs in extras that saw them bowling 26 wides and 10 no balls.
However, the record didn’t even last 24 hours as Pakistan and Scotland combined to give away 96 runs in extras when they faced off in Chester le Street the next day.
5. Against Zimbabwe, Amit Mishra took the highest number of wickets in a bilateral series
While all the hullabaloo was about Parvez Rasool’s non-inclusion in the team when a Virat Kohli-led Indian team visited Zimbabwe in 2013, old horse Amit Mishra silently made one of the most coveted records his own when he finished the series with 18 scalps.
Mishra equalled Javagal Srinath’s record of most wickets in a bilateral series. Earlier, Javagal Srinath had taken 18 wickets in a seven-match series against New Zealand in 2002. Mishra managed the feat in only 5 matches. Surprisingly, before the series, Mishra had only 19 wickets in ODIs.
6. The difference between MS Dhoni’s and his team’s Limited Overs experience is mind boggling
That Mahendra Singh Dhoni is taking the most inexperienced Indian team to have ever visited Zimbabwe would be stating the obvious. But how inexperienced? Well, let the numbers answer that for you.
Skipper Dhoni has featured in 275 ODIs and 68 T20Is in India colours. In comparison to their captain, the other 15 men who will be travelling with the captain have a cumulative experience of 83 ODIs and 28 T20Is. Ambati Rayudu with 31 ODIs is the next most experienced name after Dhoni in the team.