He was waiting for this, or so it seemed. This one was too full and right in the slot for him to swing across the line, and he got enough bat on it as the ball sailed over the stands. That's a century on ODI debut! Rahul lets out a roar. 

He's only the 11th debutant to make a century on ODI debut, he's the first Indian. Rayudu has played his part in the century too by giving him enough strike towards the end. Chants of 'Raaahul Raaahul' echo across the Harare Sports Club. 

 As such, Zimbabwe's decision to save wickets rather than scour for runs had merit. They consumed 46 dot balls in the Powerplay. But biding time in limited-overs cricket makes sense only if the batsmen to follow can execute their shots.

Vusi Sibanda got a short and wide delivery from Bumrah in the 20th over and nicked it to the wicketkeeper. Craig Ervine picked out deep midwicket, instead of the boundary beyond him, when he was presented with a long hop from left-arm spinner Axar Patel in the 24th over. Even Sikandar Raza, one of only two batsmen to face more than 50 deliveries, ushered a ball that was there for the drive back onto his stumps.

With wickets falling, especially in such soft fashion, Zimbabwe were in a constant state of rebuild and India didn't need to do much more than adhere to the basics. Given the new ball, Sran bowled only five short balls in his first spell of six overs. The spinners bowled stump to stump. Axar had a straight field, with long-off and long-on back and Yuzvendra Chahal, one of three debutants along with Karun Nair and KL Rahul, had all the more incentive to target middle and off with the batsmen unable to read his legbreak from his googly. The two of them gave away only 53 runs in 20 overs and picked up a couple of wickets too.

Zimbabwe were limping past 100, with five men down, but Elton Chigumbura did his best to marshal the lower order. He found only four of his 41 runs in boundaries but was keen to push balls down the ground and cut the ones that gave him width. But his progress - and the final four wickets lingering on for nearly 15 overs - indicated the pitch had eased out and had Zimbabwe channeled better intent, they might have lived up to their interim coach Makhaya Ntini's threat of putting second-string teams 'under the carpet' a little better. 


Taaza Vaartha

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