Zimbabwe pulled off a spectacular double against India in their tri-nations series match at Harare Sports Club on Thursday, winning with three wickets and a huge 11.4 overs to spare.
India were held down to 194-9, having scored at below four runs per over.
Zimbabwe made 197-3 with ease in reply, due mainly to an opening partnership of 128 between Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza, but Zimbabwe’s veteran medium-pace bowler Andy Blignaut also came up with a major contribution, taking just one wicket but giving away only 22 runs in his 10 overs.
Zimbabwe’s performance in reaching the winning target in less than 40 overs secured a bonus point that will be crucial in their efforts to reach the final.
Taylor made 74 in his 100th one-day international to add to his 81 against India in the opening clash of the series and Mazakadza put together a solid 66, having scored 62 against Sri Lanka and 44 in the previous India match.
It was Taylor’s 19th half-century in one-day internationals and Masakadza’s 16th. Taylor was named man of the match, giving him a personal double after he picked up the same award for his 81 against India in the first match.
After the match, Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura was full of praise for his five bowlers, who all used their allocation of 10 overs, as well as the Masakadza-Taylor partnership at the top of the order.
“They set a perfect start for us in the run chase and it was plain sailing from there,” he said.
Suresh Raina, the India skipper, thought the defeat was because the new batsmen were not creating partnerships.
“We are still just in the tournament, but we will have to play outstanding cricket in our final game against Sri Lanka on Saturday,” Raina said.
India had begun their innings with Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik putting on 58 for the first wicket, but it was made at less than three runs an over.
After 25 overs, India had scored only 86 runs and it seemed likely from there that they would struggle to make 200. That meant relying on a Zimbabwe collapse.
Instead, it was Zimbabwe’s day for a runs-spree.
The home team will probably feel justified that, with the bonus point won, they can now look forward to the final, something that was unexpected at the beginning of the tournament.