A comfortable win in the bag, India will want to seal the one-day international series against Zimbabwe with a win in the 2nd ODI at the Harare Sports Club on Monday. India were as dominant as can be in the opening match of the tour, with the bowlers and the batsmen coming to the party.
MS Dhoni will want a repeat performance from his players, especially from the bowlers, who made full use of come helpful conditions to run through the Zimbabwe batting lineup. Jasprit Bumrah, India's best bowler on this tour, led from the front with a four-for, with Barinder Sran really impressing in the early part of the innings, where he swung the ball prodigiously in to the right-handers.
Dhawal Kulkarni was not too bad either, while the spinners – Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal, on his international debut, -- even without much help, kept things really tight to help India restrict Zimbabwe to just 168.
From there it was all about not losing too many early wickets as far as India were concerned, and while Karun Nair failed with the bat, KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu saw the team home with an unbeaten century partnership. Rayudu's innings was slow and steady, not a worry since the target was under 170 in 50 overs, while Rahul looked good from the beginning, with the finish ending up being quite perfect, as a six off, what proved to be the last ball of the match, took him to exactly 100, the highest score by an Indian on ODI debut.
"Obviously with good performances in the last couple of months the confidence is there and I always knew I had the game and I had the skill-sets to be successful in all the three formats," Rahul was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. "It was just about getting opportunities, a few good games and the confidence in myself and the belief in me to go out there and know that I can perform well at any level in any format.
"So, that happened in the last two months and I'm just carrying the same confidence into this series. I've just come from a good IPL and I carried the same momentum into this game, been watching the ball well."
Now, it will be about carrying that momentum forward and making sure that all bases are, again, covered. To let Zimbabwe in now would not be the sign of that winning mentality needed on the international stage.
Yes, Zimbabwe looked off the pace in the first ODI and yes, they seemed to lack quality to be able to compete with this India team. However, a limited-overs game can change in a hurry, and a wicket here, a catch dropped or a run out there and before you know it, you have given the opposition hope. Hope can do wonders for a team, and what Dhoni and his team need to make sure is that they do not even give Zimbabwe hope, hope that they can turn their fortunes around and make the final one-dayer on Wednesday into a virtual final.
If India play the way they did in the opening match – the toss could play its part, because it does swing more in the morning, so both sides will want to win the toss and field first -- then this 2nd ODI should seal the three-match series 2-0.
Update: India need just 127 to win, after Zimbabwe lost seven wickets in a hurry to crumble to 126 all out in 34.3 overs. In a strong position at 106/3 in 25 overs, Yuzvendra Chahal completely turned the match in India's favour by picking up three wickets in a hurry, including two in two balls, to start the collapse, leaving the India batsmen with an easy target to chase.
Where to Watch Live
India vs Zimbabwe 2nd ODI is scheduled for a 12.30 p.m. IST (9 a.m. local time, 8 a.m. BST, 3 a.m. ET) start. Below is the live streaming and TV information.
India: TV: Ten 3 and Ten 1 HD. Live Streaming: Ten Sports Live.
USA: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV Online.