India will look to wrap up its short tour of Zimbabwe by claiming victory in their two-match Twenty20 series in Harare on Sunday. After winning their One-Day International series 3-0 earlier in the month, an inexperienced India squad then recorded a 54-run victory in the first T20 matchup on Friday. A clean sweep of victories on the tour is now in their sights.
And that would be a particularly welcome outcome after a disastrous ODI series defeat to Bangladesh last month brought huge pressure upon the team back home. Many of the country’s biggest stars were rested for the trip to Zimbabwe, including ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Test captain Virat Kohli, but, after a slow start, the team that has traveled have gradually asserted themselves, proving too strong for their struggling opposition.
That is particularly true for Robin Uthappa. The batsmen, aiming to stake a claim for a place in India’s middle order going forward, began the tour with a duck, but on Friday top-scored for India with 39 in 35 balls.
“I missed out in that first game, a judgment call, and the second one was towards the end, so it could have gone either way as well,” Uthappa said, reports ESPN. “The third game I should have consolidated, but made one error. A lot of hard work, and eventually one error cost me. But I'm feeling good since I've come here. I was glad I was able to bat through for the team today and set up that good total. It was quite a challenging wicket to bat on, so I'm pretty happy with the way I performed today.”
Uthappa’s score helped India to total of 178, before India’s spin bowlers completed the job. Axar Patel, making his international T20 debut, took three wickets to earn the Man of the Match award, while the vastly experienced Harbhajan Singh took a further two to dismiss Zimbabwe for just 124. And Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura readily conceded that his side’s batting had let them down.
“We were outclassed all-round today, especially with the bat,” he said, according to The Times of India. “We lost the plot after six overs. We gave away 10-15 more, the wicket was two-paced. It was difficult to play some of the strokes. It was mainly on the batting side that we were disappointing. We lost wickets at regular intervals. The Indian bowlers bowled well. We'll try and play good cricket on Sunday, hopefully it will be a positive result for us.”
After Sunday’s encounter, Zimbabwe will next be in action in an ODI series against New Zealand next month, while India will head to Sri Lanka for a three-match Test series.
Start time: 7 a.m. EDT
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