India suffered a shock loss in the first T20 game of the three-match series against Zimbabwe, making the remaining contests interesting. MS Dhoni and his men will be keen to get things right as India prepare to face Zimbabwe in the crucial second T20 match at Harare Sports Club on Monday, which is expected to be a cracker.
India, who thrashed Zimbabwe in the ODI series 3-0, must have been surprised with the defeat. They need to defeat Zimbabwe in the second T20 to take the series to a decider. India could not chase down Zimbabwe's score of 170 runs, and fell short by two runs in a thrilling encounter.
But India needs to play better in all departments of the game against Zimbabwe on Monday. India cannot afford to take Zimbabwe lightly after the loss, and need to, in fact, play an all-round cricket to defeat the home side.
Though Dhoni is not someone who loves to make changes, he could get Karun Nair into the side and strengthen the batting line-up. If Nair plays, Mandeep Singh might have to be benched. Despite KL Rahul's duck in the first T20, the right-hander is expected to retain his place.
Besides this one change in the batting order, India might play Barinder Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni in the second T20. Javed Unadkat and Rishi Dhawan could not get their bowling right in the first T20, leaking in excess of 42 and 43 runs, respectively, from their four overs. So their exclusion will not come as a major surprise.
The Zimbabwean batsmen looked good against the Indian bowlers, which played an important role in the win for the home team. Zimbabwe will come into this game with their tails up, and one sees no real need in breaking their winning combination for the second T20.
Zimbabwe looked a good side in the first T20, which helped them emerge victorious. However, it was Elton Chigumbara, who scored 26-ball 54, which played an integral role in Zimbabwe reaching 170 runs. He was at his menacing best in the latter stages of the first innings, and will be keen to play a similar innings. The all-rounder may be well suited to bat up the order in such a confident mood, and make it count in the second T20.
If their bowlers like Donald Tiripano and Taurai Muzarabani get their line and length right in the second T20, India batsmen can be troubled. But the India batsmen will be in a revenge mood after that loss, so Zimbabwe bowlers will need to be on top of their game to emerge victorious.
Expected starting XI: India: Karun Nair, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (C), Axar Patel, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Barinder Sran, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Zimbabwe: Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Malcolm Waller, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer (C), Neville Madziva, Taurai Muzarabani, Donald Tiripano.