India will be aiming to claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the second match of their One-Day International series against Zimbabwe in Harare on Sunday, as well as getting an improved performance from their batsmen. Arriving with a much-changed lineup and off the back of a humbling series defeat to Bangladesh last month, India got their three-match ODI series with Zimbabwe off to a victorious start, but a nail-biting four-run win still left plenty of room for improvement.
The triumph owed a huge amount to a record sixth-wicket partnership for India of 160 between centurion Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny. But there was nothing to savor from a middle-order collapse, as several players failed to state their case to help solve what has been something of a problem area for India of late. The same could certainly not be said of Rayudu, who, after so often being left to watch on from the sidelines during his international career, continued to show that he can be depended on to deliver when he’s called upon.
“I have been part of the Indian team for a couple of years now and have spent a lot of time sitting in the change room watching [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni bat in similar situations,” he told the Board Of Control for Cricket in India website. “I keep observing what he does and how he controls the game. There is a lot you can learn just by sitting out and I am happy that whatever I am learning, I am able to implement in the middle.
Having reduced India to 87-5 at one stage on Friday, there will have been disappointment that Zimbabwe’s bowling again struggled, allowing their opponents to post a competitive score of 255. But Zimbabwe made a fight of the chase, with Elton Chigumbura getting his second-straight century. It was to ultimately prove insufficient, however, as Zimbabwe were left needing and failing to get a six off the final delivery. Like India, it is in the middle order where Zimbabwe will be looking for improvement in the second ODI back at the Harare Sports Club.
“I thought the way we kept losing wickets, we didn't get the momentum we needed because we had to keep rebuilding,” Chigumbura said, via ESPN. “We kept on trying to build a partnership but up to the end when I ended up batting with the specialist bowlers instead of a batsman, that's probably where we lost the game. We didn't have specialist batsmen out there in the last 10 overs.”
Match time: Sunday, 3 a.m. EDT
TV Channel: Willow TV
Live stream: Willow.TV