Image courtesy of: India Times
Kohli recorded his 15th ODI century
Despite noting that the national team were in Zimbabwe to have “fun”, India interim captain Virat Kohli looked to be all business during the first ODI as he led his troops to victory with a spectacular century.
Kohli won the toss and elected to bowl first as conditions for batting would improve later on in the day.
However, India did not manage to take any early wickets, as openers Vusi Sibanda and Sikandar Raza looked to be in top form.
Sibanda and Raza even managed to bring up their fifty partnership in good time as Kohli and the rest of the Indian bowlers looked to be a little bewildered at how quickly the scoreboard was moving.
But, as everyone knows, all good things must come to an end, and this reigned true for Zimbabwe as Sibanda was dismissed for 34 by spinner Amit Mishra.
After Sibanda’s dismissal, Raza started to increase the scoring rate, but received no support from his team-mates as Zimbabwe’s entire middle order completely collapsed.
Raza soon brought up his own half-century, much to the delight of the crowd, but in the end even he succumbed to the pressure of the mighty Indian bowling attack as he was cleaned up by Mishra for 82 off 112 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes.
All-rounder Elton Chigumbura gave Zimbabwe a much-needed boost towards the end of their innings as he registered 43 runs off 34 deliveries, which included six boundaries and one maximum, to carry his side to a respectable total of 228.
Mishra was the pick of the Indian bowlers with three wickets, while Vinay Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Suresh Raina and debutant Jaydev Unadkat all picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 229 to win, India were dealt two early blows as openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were dismissed for scores of 20 and 17 respectively.
However, from then on, it was all India as Kohli and debutant Ambati Rayudu took charge and absolutely hammered the Zimbabwe bowling attack all over the ground.
Kohli and Rayudu soon registered their own half-centuries as their partnership blazed past the 100-run mark.
Once India were firmly in the driver’s seat, Kohli increased his scoring rate dramatically and almost before anyone knew it, he had recorded his 15th ODI century.
However, Kohli was dismissed soon after for 115 off 108 balls, which included 13 boundaries and one six.
Kohli and Rayudu’s partnership had been worth 159 runs and had come at a brilliant run rate of 5.57.
Raina walked in to replace Kohli and just two balls later he was walking back to the pavilion with a big zero next to his name.
But, that was all the celebrating Zimbabwe would do as Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik took India across the finish line with more than five overs to spare.
Zimbabwe off-spinner Prosper Utseya was the best of the best with two wickets, while Chigumbura and Kyle Jarvis took one wicket each.
Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor was disappointed with the loss and noted that his side had not scored enough runs while batting.
“[The] First hour was vital, We didn’t lose any wickets but we could have been a bit more proactive,” he said. “Against a quality side like India we needed 270 on the board. Sikandar Raza played very well, showing good composure despite having hardly played any games. Prosper Utseya was good with the ball and hopefully next time we can come out and express ourselves a little better.”
Kohli was pleased with his team’s all-round performance and was also named the Man of the Match for his outstanding century.
“Happy with the win,” he said. “Always good to kick off a tour with a win and personally I was happy with the way I played. The ball was moving around a bit early on and it was all about percentage cricket, rotating the strike and then playing your shots at the end. Our bowlers did a very good job up front. The new ball was doing quite a bit in the morning and with two new balls you can’t count any team out. Congratulations to Ambati Rayudu, he’s got an India call-up after a long time and he’s grabbed his opportunity very well.”