Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane scored a good half century at the top of the order for India.Reuters

India registered a comfortable 63-run victory over Zimbabwe in the second ODI and with it won the three-match series at the Harare Sports Club 2-0 on Sunday.

Zimbabwe had to chase down a total of 272 runs in 50 overs on a slow surface, where the batsmen struggled. The hosts were all out for 209 runs.

Zimbabwe started off well with Chamu Chibhabha taking on the Indian bowlers right from the beginning. Vusi Sibanda was struggling at the other end to find the middle of the bat. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who bowled really well in the first ODI to hand India a close win, bowled economically up front and picked up a couple of wickets as well. Bhuvneshwar finished with figures of four for 32, which included three maiden overs. Chigumbura, who scored a gritty century in the first ODI, was one of his victims .

Chibhaba, who scored 72 from a 100 balls,  kept on ticking the scoreboard from one end but he lacked support from the other. He went on to score a half century as well but kept on losing partners at the other end of the wicket. Hamilton Masakadza and Chigumbura were dismissed in quick succession.

The run rate was on the rise and the pressure kept on mounting on the Zimbabwean batsmen. Sean Williams played with an injury but not for long, as he was bowled by Axar Patel. Williams was also dropped twice earlier by the Indian fielders. Chibhabha was run out soon after Williams was dismissed from a brilliant direct hit from the India skipper Ajinkya Rahane.

Harbhajan Singh was the most economical among the Indian bowlers. He picked up the solitary wicket of Sikandar Raza. Harbhajan gave away just 29 runs in his 10 overs and helped India pull things back in the middle overs. He was ably backed by Axar, who gave away just 40 runs in his 10 overs, while also picking up the wicket of Williams.

Richmond Mutumbami and Graeme Cremer added 50 runs for the eighth wicket, but Binny removed Mutumbami in the 45th over. Zimbabwe still had to score 88 runs from 33 balls. Madziva was run out, yet again by Rahane, without facing a ball, leaving Zimbabwe reeling at 186 for the loss of eight wickets.

Eventually, the hosts were bundled out for 209 runs in the 49th over of their innings. 

Earlier, Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura won the toss and asked India to bat first. India started off pretty slow with Rahane and Murali Vijay at the top. But unlike the first ODI, the visitors did not lose wickets in quick succession.

Rahane and Vijay added 112 runs for the first wicket. Rahane scored a half-century, and was dismissed at 63 by Chibhabha, who was the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe in the first ODI.

Vijay continued to rotate the strike nicely after his skipper got out. Ambati Rayudu, who scored a match-winning century in the first ODI, came in to bat at number three yet again. Right from the onset, he showed his positive intent and scored runs quickly.

Vijay went on to score his maiden ODI half-century. He looked good until he tried to hit a Neville Madziva delivery for six and was caught in the deep square leg boundary at his personal score of 72.

After a good start to the innings, India lost some momentum when Vijay departed. The boundaries that were coming thick and fast while Rayudu and Vijay were at the crease were checked as Manoj Tiwary tried dto settle in.

Rayudu was looking to shift gears and threw his wicket away when he was batting at 41. Tiwary too followed him to the pavilion soon. Robin Uthappa was also cleaned up for just 13 runs by Madziva.

At one stage, India were 202 for the loss of two wickets at the end of 41 overs and suddenly they were struggling at 233 for the loss of five wickets. Zimbabwean bowlers pulled things back nicely in the middle overs. But once again they gave away way too many runs in the last seven overs. Madziva was the pick of the bowlers, who claimed four wickets and giving 49 runs in his 10 overs.

Stuart Binny came to the rescue yet again in the second ODI. He played a brisk innings of 25 runs from just 16 balls. Kedar Jadhav provided a good support from the other end and he also managed to score 16 runs off 13 balls.

At the end, India managed to post a total of 271 runs in 50 overs. Zimbabwe will have to bat really well in order to chase down those runs. On the other hand, India will be looking to seal the ODI series by registering a win in this match. 

India are 2-0 up in the three-match ODI series with one more game left to play. They can afford to experiment with their batting order in the third and final ODI at the same venue.