Tendai Chatara and captain Sikandar Raza took three wickets each as Zimbabwe pulled off a shock 13-run victory over an inexperienced India in the T20I series opener at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday. Pushed into batting first, leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi’s career-best figures of 4-13 restricted Zimbabwe to 115/9, with a useful 29 not out from Clive Madande and his 25-run stand for the last wicket with Chatara helping the hosts reach a respectable total. 

In reply, the Indian batting line-up, which had three debutants, struggled to apply themselves and perished to poor shot selection to be four down in power-play. Despite some glimmers of hope from Avesh Khan and Washington Sundar, India went in chase of the total and were bowled out for just 102.

The result also marks India’s first defeat in the format in 2024 and makes 115 the lowest defended total by the opposition against them in men’s T20Is. Chasing 116, Abhishek Sharma didn’t have a memorable debut as he heaved to deep mid-wicket off Brian Bennett to fall for a four-ball duck.

Ruturaj Gaikwad was next to fall - caught at the crease while pushing a length ball from Blessing Muzarabani and the outside edge was snapped by the first slip. Debutant Riyan Parag tried to clear mid-on against Chatara, but the extra bounce took the splice edge to mid-off and fall for just two. One brought two for Chatara as Rinku Singh tried to heave across the line, but top-edge was caught by short fine-leg and fell for a duck.

The vociferous crowd at the Harare Sports Club further raised its voice when Dhruv Jurel was enticed to drive a slower ball from Luke Jongwe and hit straight to extra cover in the tenth over. The voices from the crowd hit the roof when Shubman Gill tried to play Raza through the leg-side, but was castled by the carrom ball from Zimbabwe’s captain.

Bishnoi took two fours off Raza, but the all-rounder had the last laugh by trapping the batter lbw. Avesh breathed life into India’s chase by getting a boundary off a thick inside edge from Jongwe, followed by swiping Wellington Masakadza for consecutive fours.

But the left-arm spinner bounced back as Avesh holed out straight to long-off on a full toss, followed by Raza finishing his spell by castling Mukesh Kumar through the gate. Washington brought India back in the chase by pulling Jongwe for six and four respectively to bring the equation to 18 runs off 12 balls.

But Muzarabani nailed his length balls to give away two runs in the 19th over and make the equation as 16 runs needed off the final over. Some electric fielding from Muzarabani and Jonathan Campbell meant Zimbabwe saved potential boundaries on consecutive balls.

Sundar went for a big swipe off Chatara, but Muzarabani took a tumbling catch at backward square leg to complete a massive win for Zimbabwe, leaving the players and fans in the stadium absolutely ecstatic.

Brief scores:

Zimbabwe 115/9 in 20 overs (Clive Madande 29 not out; Ravi Bishnoi 4-13, Washington Sundar 2-11) beat India 102 in 19.5 overs (Shubman Gill 31; Tendai Chatara 3-16, Sikandar Raza 3-25) by 13 runs

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)

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