Top 7 India-Zimbabwe ODI Contests of All Time
The history of Zimbabwe cricket is an interesting one, more tied up to their national politics than most other cricketing histories. Most of India will remember the shivers they gave India in the victorious 1983 World Cup campaign. Most of India will also remember the Leicester heartbreak that cost India a semi-final spot eventually in the 1999 World Cup.Interestingly, Zimbabwe was also the place where India had broken one of its longest lulls as far as away Test wins are concerned, in Bulawayo. There is plenty of history there and it is definitely worthwhile to check out the best five ODI games that these two teams, currently on opposite sides of the ranking spectrum, have dished out for the cricket lovers in both nations. But, before that let us look at the history of the two teams:India Zimbabwe head-to-headOccasionTotalWon by IndiaWon by ZimTiedIn India191531In Zimbabwe171340Neutral 211731World Cup9810For a while between 1997 and 2004, the games between the two teams were very evenly contested, with Zimbabwe going through a golden phase with some legendary players. India had a tough time back then.After that, the turmoil in the country costs its cricket too and not until recent times have Zimbabwe managed decent showings, due to an exodus of good players and lack of funds, even losing Test status for a brief while.All in all, India have a win ratio of 45/57 against Zimbabwe, amounting to approximately 80%. Previously, it was Suresh Raina who led a second string Indian side in a bilateral series in Zimbabwe. This time around, it is Ajinkya Rahane, who will be captaining a side without most of its bigwigs.Zimbabwe peaked at one point in the 90s with its golden generation that included players like Grand and Andy Flower, Heath Streak, Alistair Campbell, Eddo Brandes and a bunch of other young quicks. They got their biggest blow in recent times through the loss of Brendan Taylor who accepted the Kolpak deal.That leaves the team a little too young and vulnerable. They still do have some experience in the form of Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura. Those players might take heart from the Zimbabwe performances in some of these tightly contested games.
#7 VB series, 2004, Adelaide
Winner: India, by 3 runs
Man of the Match: VVS Laxman (131)
The period between 1998 and 2004 had some really exciting India vs Zimbabwe games and this was one of them. India scored 280 batting first after being 4 for 3 with both openers out for a duck. However, VVS Laxman scored a 138 ball 131.
He first added 133 for the fourth wicket with Rahul Dravid (56) and then another 118 with Rohan Gavaskar (54) to push India to a very good total. Zimbabwe had an equally poor start going from 14 for 1 to 46 for 3.
However Stuart Carlisle (109) and Sean Ervine (100) added 202 runs for the fourth wicket in just 34 overs to make for a tantalising chase. With 33 needed from the last 24 balls, Zimbabwe lost the plot. They could only manage 277 for six in their 50 overs, falling short by three runs, with Ajit Agarkar finishing with excellent figures of 3-39.
#6 Bilateral Series, 2002, Faridabad
Winner: Zimbabwe, by 1 wicket
Man of the Match: Dougie Marillier (56 & 1-53)
This was one of the more closely fought bilateral contests between the two countries, eventually ending 3-2 in India’s favour, the series decided in the last game. Batting first, India had scored 274, thanks to half-centuries from VVS Laxman (75) and Sourav Ganguly (57). Ajit Agarkar had scored a 19 ball 40 to ensure India managed close to 80 runs in their last 10 overs.
The chase swung wildly from one end to another. Zimbabwe started poorly, going from 5 for 1 to 21 for 2. However, Alistair Campbell (84) and Andy Flower (71) gave the chase some pace and strength. Zimbabwe then lost their way dropping down to 210 for eight in 44.2 overs, requiring 64 more runs in 34 balls with just two wickets.
Dougie Marillier, the No.10 scored a 24 ball 56, one of the fastest ODI half-centuries by a No.10 batsman to take Zimbabwe home with two balls to spare. Zimbabwe added 43 for the ninth wicket and then an unbeaten 24 runs for the tenth wicket off which Brent just scored 1. As they go, this was one of the tightest ever ODI contests of all time, not just between the two nations.
#5 Bilateral Series, 2000, Jodhpur
Winner: Zimbabwe, by 1 wicket
Man of the Match: Grant Flower (3-43 & 70)
An impressive win for Zimbabwe, this came around the time when Zimbabwe were at the peak of their prowess and had started defeating India regularly. In this game, India scored 283 batting first with Sachin Tendulkar scoring 146 off 153 balls. Zaheer Khan scored a quick-fire 32 in just 11 balls to push India’s total further after a middle order collapse.
The Zimbabwe innings started with a stutter and they found themselves in a spot of bother at 52 for three. However, a 158 run fourth wicket partnership between the brothers, Grant (70) and Andy Flower (77) saw Zimbabwe reach 210 in 40 overs.
However, India fought back well getting both the wickets. A late order resistance saw Zimbabwe just make it across the mark scoring 284 in 49.5 overs with the last two batsmen somehow managing the last run after Zimbabwe were nine down with three balls to spare.
#4 Hero Cup, 1993, Indore
Winner: Match tied
Man of the Match: Manoj Prabhakar (91 and 2-41)
The Hero Cup is remembered for Anil Kumble’s sensational 6-12 against West Indies in the Final that remained the best bowling figures by an Indian in an ODI for more than two decades. It is also remembered for Sachin Tendulkar’s nerve-wracking last over against South Africa in the Semi-Finals when he gave away just 3 runs and India won the game by three runs.
However, that wonderful tournament had another exciting match between India and Zimbabwe.
Batting first India scored 248 against Zimbabwe, Manoj Prabhakar turning in an all-round performance first with the bat, scoring 91 and later with the ball. Zimbabwe chased really well in spite of stumbling at 143 for five.
Andy Flower (56) scored a fine half-century. A late flourish saw Zimbabwe equal the scores but Heath Streak was run out of the last ball and Zimbabwe were 248 all out. The teams had to share the points. Javagal Srinath was spectacular that day with figures of 3-44 in 10 overs.
#3 Standard Bank Series, 1997, Paarl
Winner: Match tied
Man of the Match – Eddo Brandes (5-41) and Robin Singh (48)
The game virtually resurrected Robin Singh’s career as he single-handedly took India from defeat to a tie. Batting first, Zimbabwe had posted 236. India were 40 for 3 and later 176 for seven when the match was all but over.
Jadeja (32) and Saba Karim (38) added 56 for the sixth wicket and then Robin Singh added 25 for the ninth wicket with Salil Ankola. Singh scored a 31 ball 48 taking India to 235. Singh ran the penultimate ball for a bye to the wicket-keeper but was run-out. The ball was later declared a wide, which meant the scores were level but India were all out.
India lost the next game to Zimbabwe at Centurion, but managed to get one back at Benoni to eventually make it to the Final of the triangular tournament. This game is also remembered for Eddo Brandes’ fine bowling, with match figures of 9.5-1-41-5.
#2 World Cup, 1983, Tunbridge Wells
Winner: India, by 31 runs.
Man of the Match – Kapil Dev (175* & 1-32)
It is a game that is part of India’s cricketing folklore. Sadly, no recording exists because it was a BBC strike that day depriving us of one of the greatest ODI innings ever played. India, batting first, were 9 for 4 and later 17 for 5. Kapil Dev (175) added 60 with Roger Binny (22) and then 62 with Madan Lal (17) for the eighth wicket. Later, he added an unbeaten 126 for the ninth wicket with Syed Kirmani (24) to take India to 266.
That record-breaking innings had 16 fours and six sixes. Zimbabwe chased well with a couple of good lower order partnerships but were eventually all out for 235. That game gave India a real scare and could have cost them an entry to the later stages. Kapil’s 175* had come in just 138 balls and is one of the highest individual scores at the World Cup.
#1 World Cup 1999, Leicester
Winner – Zimbabwe, by three runs.
Man of the Match – Grant Flower (45 & 1-33)
It was probably India’s most heart-breaking loss against Zimbabwe. This group match loss cost India two points, which later came to haunt them in the Super-Six when Zimbabwe qualified for that stage as well. Eventually, that robbed India of a spot in the semi-final of the 1999 World Cup.
It all started when Zimbabwe were asked to bat and posted 252 on one of India’s worst bowling days where they had conceded 51 extras including 21 wides and 16 no balls. Thankfully, there were no free hits back then.
Ajit Agarkar (1-70) had a terrible match. India were in a spot of bother at 56 for three chasing, but S Ramesh (55) and Ajay Jadeja (43) steadied the ship. However, India couldn’t manage another decent partnership afterward and fell short by three runs, all out in just 45 overs with one more over still available.
India had been docked four overs for slow bowling (oh yes, rules were different back then), Henry Olonga was India’s nemesis that day with figures of 3-22 with two wickets in two balls to wrap India’s tail up. Grant and Andy Flower both contributed, but Grant took Man of the Match home with his bowling figures of 1-33 in his full quota of 10 overs.