India played some wonderful all-round cricket to thrash Zimbabwe by 10 wickets in the second T20 at Harare Sports Club on Monday. MS Dhoni's team have hence levelled the best of three-match series 1-1, and the third game will act as the decider.
After their shocking loss in the first T20, India were determined to prove their mettle. Barinder Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni were brought back into team, and it was left-arm pacer, who ripped apart Zimbabwe's top order.
The hosts, batting first, were tottering at 28 for four. Sran just bowled a perfect line and length to trouble the Zimbabwe batsmen.
Things could have been even more worse for Zimbabwe, but Manish Pandey could not latch onto a simple catch, providing Malcolm Waller a lifeline. PJ Moor and Waller had a huge task, to build a strong partnership and score runs at a brisk rate as well. The pair looked decent and scored 29 runs, but Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Waller for 12 runs, making life difficult for the hosts.
There was immense pressure on last-match hero, Elton Chigumbara to play another brilliant innings, and help Zimbabwe come up with a respectable total. However, it was Moor, who hit some huge shots before losing his wicket for 31 runs.
Chigumbara could not come up with a repeat performance as the batsman was bowled out by Jasprit Bumrah for eight runs only. India's death over specialist once again cleaned up Neville Madviza for one run. Zimbabwe could only manage 99 runs in their allotted 20 overs.
After a solid performance from Sran and Bumrah, who managed to take four and three wickets respectively, it was batsmen's turn to shine in Harare.
With India required to score below six runs per over, openers KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh were not really required to attack from the first ball. The openers were in no mood to give their wickets easily, and were trying to score runs from loose deliveries in the first couple of overs.
Rahul hit India's first boundary in the fourth over. The right-hander, after failing to get off the mark in the first T20, looked sublime, timing the ball to perfection as well. Mandeep, who was dropped in the fifth over, played a wonderful cover drive in the next ball to disappoint the bowler, Madziva.
Without taking much risks, India scored 37 runs in the first six overs, and Dhoni' team were inching closer to a victory as well. India batsmen were finding it too easy, and were milking the Zimbabwe bowlers all around the wicket without any trouble.
With Zimbabwe only scoring 99 runs, the bowlers required the fielders to support them, but the host looked below par on field, dropping catches as well. Rahul and Mandeep were looking better as the match progressed, playing some glorious shots to win the match for India in a convincing manner in the 13.1 overs.
Mandeep, who hit the winning runs, scored 40-ball 52, comprising six fours and one six. Rahul finished unbeaten on 47 runs with two fours and two sixes.
It was a comprehensive victory for India, who will now be keen to win the third T20, and clinch the series on Wednesday.