India will face Zimbabwe in the first ODI of the three-match series in Harare on Saturday. This will be a new challenge for MS Dhoni as he will not be having familiar faces in the Indian squad.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, will want to prove their mettle against a rookie Indian side. Graeme Cremer will lead the charge for Zimbabwe and he will want to make a winning start.
The game could tilt either way but it is India who have their nose in the front. Even if their side is filled with youngsters, they have a lot of potential to outclass the opponents with ease.
Let us take a look at how the first ODI between India and Zimbabwe could transpire on Friday:
If India bats first: KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh get India off to a good start. Both batsmen look in good shape as they are timing the ball really well. But Sean William comes in and slow things down as he removes Mandeep Singh in his second over. India reach 56/1 at the end of 10 overs. Manish Pandey and Rahul put together a brilliant partnership and help India to post a commendable total on the board. Rahul continues with his form that he was in during IPL 2016 and goes on to score a century. Pandey too come close to a hundred but remains unbeaten on 97 till the end. Ambati Rayudu strikes some meaty blows towards the end to power India to a total of 315/2 at the end of 50 overs.
Barinder Sran and Jasprit Bumrah start troubling the Zimbabwe batsmen right from the start. Zimbabwe batsmen are not being able to handle the pressure and they are losing wickets at regular intervals. Elton Chigumbura and Williams show some resistance in the middle overs but at the end it was too easy for the Indian spinners - Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal to run through the Zimbabwean batting order.
If Zimbabwe bat first: Vusi Sibanda and Chamu Chibhabha get off to a flier and the India bowlers are put under pressure. MS Dhoni tactically throws the ball to Yuzvendra Chahal and he delivers for his skipper. The partnership is finally broken which was looking dangerous. ZImbabwe reach 100 in the 13th over. The spinners then slow things down and pick up a couple of more wickets to put Zimbabwe under pressure. At the end Zimbabwe could reach a total of 275 for the loss of seven wickets - thanks to a wonderful innings from Hamilton Masakadza, who remained unbeaten on 79.
Rahul and Mandeep start off with the run chase sensibly and in the first 10 overs India does not lose any wicket. It was then Sikandar Raza and the skipper himself exert pressure by dismissing the two Indian openers. Pandey and Rayudu orchestrate the run chase beautifully after that and that too without taking any risk. The duo help India reach close to the target. Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni finish things off with three overs to spare.