Ajinkya Rahane won the toss for the first time on the tour, but there was no change in the decision, as India batted first, made decent use of a flat wicket on a nice and bright day to put on a score of note, which Zimbabwe could not come close to breaching.
Having clinched the ODI series 3-0, the India batsmen came into this first T20 international in confident mood, and it showed in their batting, with Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane providing the team a brisk start. The middle order failed to really kick on from the fast start, but India still got to a defendable 178 for five in their 20 overs.
Zimbabwe's chase faltered the moment the first wicket feel, after a solid start, with the hosts eventually finishing on 124 for seven, 54 runs adrift of India's score.
Chamu Chibhabha was reasonably impressive in the ODI series against India, and him and Hamilton Masakadza got Zimbabwe off to a decent start, putting on 55 runs together for the first wicket. Chibhabha (23, 27b, 2x4, 1x6) and Masakadza (28, 24b, 1x4, 2x6) were particularly severe on the debutant Sandeep Sharma, who got thumped for a six off his first ball in international cricket, before going for 16 runs in his first over.
His first two overs went for 22 runs, and, no doubt, Sandeep (3-0-34-0) will learn from his mistakes as he gets more opportunities, even if he wasn't helped by some odd field placements by captain Rahane.
However, apart from that big Sandeep over, Zimbabwe did not have too much to write home about, and once Chibhabha fell to Harbhajan Singh (4-0-29-2), the India spinners took control, with Axar Patel (4-0-17-3) also getting in on the act to shut out the batting side.
Earlier, while Rahane was the single, two-taker in the partnership, Vijay was the aggressor, for 19 balls showing just why he used to be considered such a potent batsman in the IPL a few seasons ago.
Vijay put the spank on every bad ball that Zimbabwe bowled – and there were a few of those early on – while also using his ability to manoeuvre around the crease to take toll of the bowling, to help India to 58/0 after the six Powerplay overs.
Just when he looked primed for a big score, though, a sloppy single led to his demise with Sikandar Raza hitting the stumps direct brilliantly to send Vijay (34, 19b, 5x4, 1x6) packing.
Rahane (33, 32b, 2x4) did not last too long after, as the India skipper, yet again, threw away his wicket after a start, as Graeme Cremer found a leading edge to dismiss the batsman. Cremer (4-1-20-1) would then go on to complete a wicket maiden, and it looked like India's momentum might just get stalled.
Robin Uthappa (39 n.o., 35b, 2x4) and Manish Pandey (19, 19b, 1x4, 1x6) batted circumspectly to ensure no more wickets would fall, especially considering India were batting a man light, having drafted in debutant Sandeep Sharma for Manoj Tiwary, but just when the KKR duo needed to kick into high gear, Pandey holed out to long-off off Christopher Mpofu (4-0-33-3), who bowled well towards the end of the innings.
Zimbabwe, who were quite guilty of giving away too many extras – they had 25 in all – sensed an opportunity to restrict their opponents to a chaseable total, and while they did that a certain extent, even if India managed 55 runs in the final five overs, the home team's batsmen will still need to get their boundary-hitting groove on to open the T20 series with a win.