HARARE – A convincing all-round display by a visiting second-string India cricket team swept aside Zimbabwe by nine wickets in the first match of the Killer Cup ODI series here yesterday.
The visitors captain MS Dhoni won the toss and sent in Zimbabwe to bat first and the locals seemed to have no answers to the youthful Indian bowling attack as they reached a paltry 168 all out inside 49.5 overs.
India reached the target with relative ease as they made a score of 173-1 inside 42.3 overs to draw first blood in the three-match series.
Debutant batsman KL Rahul was the star of the show with an assured batting display notching his maiden 100 from just 115 ?deliveries hitting seven boundaries and a single maximum.
The 24-year-old, also a wicketkeeper, was duly named man-of-the-match after starring in a 162-run unbroken second-wicket partnership with the experienced top-order batsman Ambati Rayudu.
Rayudu, who is one of the more senior players in the squad with 32 ODIs under his belt, finished unbeaten on 62 from 120 deliveries.
Seamer Tendai Chatara picked Zimbabwe’s only wicket when he dismissed opener Kuran Nair for seven in the fifth over.
The locals were playing in only their first bilateral series since the ICC World T20 debacle in India where they failed to reach the main draw after being eliminated by Associate side Afghanistan.
Earlier in the day, the youthful Indian quicks made instant inroads with medium seamer Barinder Sran trapping Zimbabwe opener PJ Moor lbw for just three runs on the last ball of the second over.
Left-arm seamer Jasprit Bumrah, 22, and playing in only his fourth ODI since making his debut in January against Australia in Perth, was the pick of the Indian bowlers with four wickets for 28 runs from 9.5 overs.
Fellow seamers Dhawal Kulkarni and Sran picked up two wickets apiece for identical 42 runs from 10 overs each.
Former captain Hamilton Masakadza perished for 14 in the ninth over.
Chamu Chibhabha (13), Vusi Sibanda (5) and Craig Ervine (21) all departed without giving a spirited fight.
Elton Chigumbura (41) top-scored for the locals batting at number seven while Sikandar Raza (23) in at six summed up Zimbabwe’s struggles with the bat.
Zimbabwe interim captain Graeme Cremer admitted his batsman did not come to party yesterday.
“We didn’t get enough runs; maybe if we would have 220, it could have been a different story,” Cremer said.
“We lost a couple of wickets to good balls, but few of the guys didn’t kick on after getting 20s and 30s. Indian batsmen showed how easy batting can get once you get in. Our seamers bowled well but it just didn’t go our way. We know we are much better than that and we can hopefully win the next game to make the third ODI a final.”
Dhoni, who played an inspiring role to this youthful Indian side, was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It was a very good performance. I felt the fast bowlers did well, and were backed by the spinners even though there wasn’t much help for them,” he said.
“A win first up is important in a three-game series.
“The batsmen did a very good job but the bowlers laid the ground work.”
The second ODI is scheduled for tomorrow at the same venue.