HARARE – Zimbabwe’s win over India in the first of three T20 internationals at Harare Sports Club on Saturday all but sets up a thrilling climax in the series.
Having been blown away 3-0 in the ODI series; Zimbabwe bounced back in spectacular fashion outclassing the men from India, thanks to a good batting and equally impressive bowling display.
It seems Makhayasynt Ntini’s men finally got the keys to start the engine, scoring 170 in 20 overs, a score that surpassed all that the team posted in each of the three ODIs.
In the first ODI, Zimbabwe scored a paltry 168 all out in 49.5 overs having been thrust into batting first by India skipper MS Dhoni.
The second ODI provided yet another sequel with the hosts setting India 126 after being dismissed in 34.3 overs. And as if the two matches were not enough to cause heart palpitations to the die-hard cricket fans, Zimbabwe went on to add another dose of heart-wrenching cricket capitulating in 42.2 overs for a paltry 123.
The horrendous Zimbabwe performance trilogy was complete without the tourists having broken a sweat.
In fact, only the top three batsmen managed to get action with the willow.
The fans were distraught — with some even protesting.
However, the home side vowed to come back, with captain Graeme Cremer declaring that it was not impossible to beat India. So we waited.
On Saturday they delivered, with positive cricket and noticeable energy on the field, Zimbabwe buried the ODI misery drawing first blood in the series.
Elton Chigumbura, having failed to score in two consecutive ODIs going out from the first ball, top scored with a blistering innings scoring an unbeaten 54 off 26 balls.
He showed the form he is well known for the world over, sending one or two out of the ground. To him, an all-round team performance was what Zimbabwe needed.
“The main thing, was obviously, it’s T20s were you have to be positive, but I think the way we started today, Chamu (Chibhabha) and Hammy (Masakadza) set the platform for the rest of the guys…our bowling as well especially Neville (Madziva) in the final over… everyone was believing that if we all play as a team and everyone contributes there would be high chances that we would win the game,” Chigumbura said.
For today’s game, Chigumbura believes that having won the first match, the confidence levels will be up there.
“Yes, definitely especially with what we did in the ODIs, I think as a team it is time to redeem ourselves. Obviously, on Monday (today) it is going to be important to come out and play again and make sure that everyone contributes to the team and hopefully have a good one again,” he said.
Madziva proved the match winner, after being tasked with bowling the penultimate over.
Bowling to Dhoni in the last over is no walk in the park. The India skipper is ruthless when it comes to finishing off games and to the 24-year-old right arm medium/fast, with India needing 8 to win, the task was huge.
“…when Cremer told me I was going to ball the last over, I just told myself that I was going to give it my all and that also gave me time to have a clear plan,” Madziva said.
“Obviously, I didn’t look at the name because if I had that in mind, then first ball I was going to go for six… I told myself I am just bowling to any guy and stick to my plans… so I took my time calmed myself down.”
In the end, the last over went for five singles with Madziva also claiming the scalp of Axar Patel.