First T20I: Zimbabwe stun young Indian team in low-scoring thriller at Harare

Shubman Gill's India was beaten by 13 runs in the T20 series opener at Harare by a sp

Zimbabwe batter Clive Madande plays a shot during the T20 cricket match against India at Harare Sports club | AP Zimbabwe batter Clive Madande plays a shot during the T20 cricket match against India at Harare Sports club | AP

Shubman Gill's India was beaten by 13 runs in the T20 series opener at Harare by a spirited Zimbabwe on Saturday. Chasing 116 to win, the second-string Indian lineup was bowled out for 102 with a ball to go by the hosts. The victory is Zimbabwe's third over India in their nine previous encounters in the format, all coming in Harare, with the last in 2016.

Captain Gill (31 off 29), Washington Sundar (27 off 34) and tail-ender Avesh Khan  (16 off 12) were the only batters who could show some resistence to the Zimbabwe bowling unit led by Tendai Chatara (3/16) and Sikandar Raza (3/25).

Winning the toss, India chose to field and restricted Zimbabwe to 115/9 in their 20 overs. Some of the African batters got starts but Clive Madande was the top scorer with an unbeaten 29 from 25 balls as Zimbabwe collapsed from 73-3 to 90-9 before a late innings flurry.India made a dismal start to their reply as they slumped to 22-4 and never recovered. 

The second match of the series is slated on Sunday.

India's stutter began in the first over itself, losing Abhishek Sharma, one of three T20I debutants along with Riyan Parag and Dhruv Jurel, for duck.

Sharma's almighty cross-batted heave off Brian Benett was caught easily by Wellington Masakadza in the outfield.

But what was perceived as an initial scratch soon turned into a deep gash as India kept losing wickets.

Ruturaj Gaikwad (7) could not negate a slightly bouncier offering from pacer Blessing Muzarabani, edging it to Innocent Kaia at the floating first slip.

Soon, pacer Tendai Chatara dealt a double blow to India, dismissing Parag (2) and Rinku Singh (0) in the space of three balls in the fifth over.

Parag's over-enthusiastic loft over mid-off could not clear substitute Brandon Mavuta, while Rinku did not have the necessary space to execute pull off a climbing-up delivery.

However, skipper Shubman Gill kept India in the chase with a sensible knock (31, 5x4), but Sikandar Raza accounted for his counterpart with a delivery that skidded past his bat to rattle the stumps.

Avesh Khan (16, 12b) and Washington Sundar (27, 34b) added 23 runs for the eighth wicket to take India to 84 but a full-blooded smash off a Masakadza full-toss was accepted by Raza at long-off.

At 84 for eight and then at 86 for nine, the fight was well and truly over.

India needed 16 runs off the last over and despite Washington being there, they could only manage just two runs as Zimbabwe celebrated a famous win with all fervour.

Before their batters faltered, the Indian bowlers led by leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, performed admirably on a pitch that had a hint of extra bounce and sufficient carry.

Bishnoi returned with a career-best 4/13 and received adequate support from off-spinner Washington (2/11) as Zimbabwe struggled to stitch any meaningful partnership.

However, Zimbabwe made a rather brisk start to their innings, reaching 40 for two in the Power Play segment even though their batters were not always convincing.

After the early dismissal of Kaia, who dragged a Mukesh Kumar delivery onto his stumps, Wessly Madhevere (21, 22b) and Bennett (22, 15b) added 34 runs in quick time.

The highlight of their alliance was the fifth over in which they plundered 17 runs off left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed.

Bennett hammered him for two successive boundaries as Zimbabwe seemed to have recovered from the early loss of Kaia.

But the ouster of Bennett by Bishnoi in the sixth over changed the complexion of Zimbabwe's innings. Bennett could not read Bishnoi's googly, which also carried three more Zimbabwe batters to their doom later Madhevere, Muzarabani and Luke Jongwe.

They crawled to 74 for three from there, courtesy the patience of skipper Raza (17, 19b) but lost their way from that point, losing six wickets for 41 runs.

The hosts' batters seemed to have slipped into a state of panic, evidenced by the dismissal of Jonathan Campbell, son of former Zimbabwe captain Alastair Campbell.

Campbell pushed an Avesh delivery to the covers and called for a single and his partner Dion Myers responded.

But Campbell changed his mind suddenly and stayed back as Myers crossed the crease, forcing the former to walk back.

Their last hope rested on experienced Raza, and he raised some hope, smashing Avesh for a six over the bowler's head.

But the extra bounce Avesh generated soon did Raza in as his mis-timed pull ended in the hands of Bishnoi in the deep.

Washington joined the party with two wickets in as many balls, jettisoning Myers (23, 22b) and Wellington Masakadza (0) off consecutive balls.

In the process, the Tamil Nadu man also completed 100 wickets in T20s.

Clive Madande's cameo (29 not out, 25b) helped Zimbabwe go past the 100-run mark and that proved a tad too many for India this day. 

- With PTI inputs

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