India started their tour of Zimbabwe in the manner they were expected to â€“ with a dominant win. The bowlers, led by Jasprit Bumrah, did their jobs splendidly in the first innings, before the batsmen, with KL Rahul, on his ODI debut, striking a wonderful century, hit off the last ball of the match, to guide MS Dhoni's men to a comfortable victory.
Choosing to field first on a cool morning at in Harare, the India fast bowlers swung the ball around to bowl Zimbabwe out for 168 in 49.5 overs. In reply, once Karun Nair failed to take his chance, Rahul, opening the innings, and No.3 Ambati Rayudu (62 n.o., 12b, 5x4) put on an unconquered 162-run partnership to cruise India home to a nine-wicket win with 7.3 overs to spare. Rahul, with his unbeaten 100 (115b, 7x4, 1x6), reached with a six to win the match, also beat fellow Karnataka man Robin Uthappa's record of the highest score by an India batsman on ODI debut.
On a pitch that had plenty in it for the faster bowlers, Barinder Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni began well, the left-armer in particular causing all sorts of problems for the Zimbabwe batsmen. Sran should have picked up a wicket off his first ball when he got an inswinging yorker working perfectly to trap Chamu Chibhabha in front, but umpire Russell Tiffin shook his head when he should have really been raising his finger. Five balls later, though, Sran would pick up a wicket, off another inswinger, with Peter Moor, this time, struck in front.
Chibhabha, in a Test match-like battle for survival against Sran (10-0-42-2) for nearly his entire stay at the crease, and Hamilton Masakadza, who was dropped as captain for this series, tried to steady the ship and wrest some control back for Zimbabwe, but the latter, after a couple of boundaries in quick succession, got a perfect outswinger from Kulkarni (10-1-42-2), with Dhoni doing the rest behind the wicket.
India just kept chipping away at the wickets, breaking a partnership every time it looked like bringing Zimbabwe back, with Chibhabha's (13, 42b, 0x4, 0x6) tortuous time at the crease brought to an end by the pace of Jasprit Bumrah, who found a way through the gate to knock off the stumps.
Vusi Sibanda came and went quickly, falling victim to Bumrah, before Craig Ervine (21, 45b, 1x4) holed out in the deep off Axar Patel (10-1-26-1). The other spinner and debutant for this game -- Yuzvendra Chahal (10-1-27-1) -- bowled economically, before finally picking up his first international wicket, when Richmond Mutumbami holed out in the deep off the leg-spinner's final over.
Sikandar Raza and Elton Chigumbura, the only batsman who looked decent in the middle, put on 38 runs for the sixth wicket to bring that score up a little, with the latter ending up with 41 (65b, 1x4).
The problem for Zimbabwe, though, was that there just weren't enough boundaries. In total the entire team only struck nine fours, with not a single six pinging off the bat. That meant no free runs, and with Bumrah (9.5-2-28-4) bringing his death over skills to the fore again, the home team were bowled out for under 170, with Rahul and Rayudu then guiding their team home with the bat.