Agonising defeat for Zim

HARARE - Zimbabwe cricket inability to successfully chase totals came to the fore again after they succumbed to an agonising four-run defeat against India in the first ODI here yesterday.

India reached a total of 255-6 inside 50 overs after they had been asked to bat by Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura.

Ambati Rayudu was the pick of the Indian batsmen with a well-worked 124 of 133 deliveries which duly earned him the man-of-the-match award.

It was the 29-year-old’s second ODI ton and it featured 12 boundaries and one maximum.

All-rounder Stuart Binny anchored the tourists’ innings with a devastating 77 off 76 deliveries to help India reach 255.

With Zimbabwe’s struggles with chasing totals is well documented — the side have only won six of the 30 ODIs they have been asked to chase totals of 240 and above since 2005 — the host’s got off to a slow start.

Opener Chamu Chibhabha was out in the fifth over after only scoring three runs.

Vusi Sibanda did not last long either; the opener was out for 20 in the 13th over to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 47-2.

It left Chigumbura and Hamilton Masakadza with the task of reshaping the Zimbabwe innings.

The duo’s momentum lasted briefly as Masakadza was out for 34 in the 23rd over leaving Zim at 89-3.

Returning spinner, Graeme Cremer played a crucial supportive role in a 86-run seventh wicket partnership with Chigumbura before he was caught for 27 on the last ball of the penultimate over.

With Zimbabwe needing just 10 runs to win from the last over, Indian captain asked Bhuvneshwar Kumar to take the ball.

In the first three deliveries, the hosts were able to get three run before Kumar bowled spectacularly on the block hole to restrict Chigumbura to just one run in remaining three deliveries.

Chigumbura (104) not out reached his second ODI century but it was all in vain as the hosts could only get to 251 after a nail baiting final over.

“It was disappointing to lose the game after getting so close. It is something we can learn from,” Chigumbura said after the match.

“I thought it was a good wicket to bat on, but we kept losing wickets. Losing wickets in groups made the difference today. It was also good to score runs and hopefully I can carry on and win for the team.”

India's matchwinner Ambati Rayudu said: “I have played over 10 ODIs but I haven’t had any chance to bat more than five overs so it was a great opportunity to be out there in the middle.

“We didn’t set any totals when we went into bat but we just wanted not to lose early wickets.

“I wouldn’t say Zim gave us the game but we had good dearth bowling.”

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