Zimbabwe vs India 1st ODI: Rayudu’s ton helps India skirt past Zimbabwe

Rayudu celebrates after scoring his second ODI century

Rayudu celebrates after scoring his second ODI century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

India batsman Ambati Rayudu scored a career-high 124 not out to help his side emerge victorious by four runs in a thrilling showdown against Zimbabwe in the first ODI in Harare.

Rayudu was well supported by all-rounder Stuart Binny, who scored a career-best 77 and took two wickets.

However, Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura deserves a lot of credit as he made a valiant 104 not out.

Chigumbura would have bee pleased with his decision to bowl first as his bowling attack left India in tatters at 87/5 in the 25th over.

However, Rayudu and Binny stemmed the bleeding with a 160-run partnership, during which Rayudu brought up his second ODI century and Binny his maiden half-century, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Donald Tiripano.

Binny’s excellent knock of 77 came off 76 balls and included six boundaries and two sixes.

Binny made his first ODI half-century

Binny made his first ODI half-century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Rayudu ended up making an unbeaten 124, which came off 133 balls and included 12 boundaries and a six, to help India finish on 255/6 off their 50 overs.

Tiripano and Chamu Chibhabha picked up two wickets apiece, while Brian Vitori chipped in with one.

Chasing 256 to win, Chigumbura was the only Zimbabwe batsman to convert his encouraging start into a big score. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for opener Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza and Graeme Cremer as they were dismissed for 20, 34, 37 and 27 respectively.

Even though Sibanda, Masakadza, Raza and Cremer did not make the best of contributions, it seemed as if it would be enough to carry Zimbabwe across the finish line as they only required 10 runs to win off the final over.

However, unfortunately for Zimbabwe, Chigumbura was unable to deliver and, as a result, they fell five agonising runs short of their target.

Chigumbura ended up finishing on 104 off 101 balls, which included eight boundaries and a six.

Chigumbura's second ODI ton went in vain

Chigumbura’s second ODI ton went in vain

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Binny and Akshar Patel snapped up two wickets apiece, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni and Harbhajan Singh claimed one wicket each.

Chigumbura was gutted to have lost the match, and said: “It was disappointing to lose the game after getting so close. It is something we can learn. I thought it was a good wicket to bat on, but we kept losing wickets. Losing wickets in groups made the difference today. It is also good to score runs and hopefully I can carry on and win for the team.”

India captain Ajinkya Rahane was relieved to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, and said: “Rayudu batted really well because the wicket was not easy early on. The way he batted, it was brilliant to see from the dressing room. We all knew 255 was a good score. We knew our fielding was good. Bhajji pa and Axar bowled well. I was looking to stay calm but inside I was nervous. It could have gone either way. Credit to both batsmen and bowlers.”

Rayudu was named Man of the Match, and said: “It was very tough to bat in the morning. Me and Ajju were batting well until he got out. I am happy that I took the responsibility today. I was just telling Binny to hold back a bit till the 42nd over as we couldn’t afford to lose wickets then. Contributing to the team is more important.”

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