Opening batters Shubman Gill and Shikhar Dhawan starred as India cruised to a 10-wicket victory over Zimbabwe yesterday in the first of three one-day internationals.
Gill (82) and vice-captain Dhawan (81) were unbeaten as the tourists knocked off a modest target of 190 with 19.1 overs to spare at Harare Sports Club.
The home side were all out for 189 in 40.3 overs, thanks largely to a brave 70-run ninth-wicket stand between Richard Ngarava and Brad Evans.
“I am enjoying batting with young Shubman and today I feel like a youngster too,” said Dhawan.
“Once I was set, I went after the bowlers. I wanted to rotate the strike as well and then accelerate.
“My rhythm with Gill has settled nicely. The way he bats and times the ball is lovely to watch. He has shown the consistency in converting 50s into bigger 50s.
“Our bowlers did well and it was nice to see Deepak Chahar come back from injury and pick up three wickets.”
Zimbabwe captain Regis Chakabva said: “India bowled really well and put pressure on us. I thought we started well but lost our way from the 18-over mark.
“It was good to see Richie and Brad give a good partnership at the back end. They were quite good, but we needed one or two more big partnerships. “Our bowlers tried to come hard at them but Shikhar and Gill batted really well and took us out of the game.”
Zimbabwe used eight bowlers, but none could claim a wicket as the Indian openers struck a six and 19 fours between them.
Ngarava fared worst with the ball, conceding 40 runs in seven overs, while Luke Jongwe restricted the Indian openers to 11 runs in his two-over stint.
India, third in the ODI rankings and 10 places above Zimbabwe, travelled to southern Africa without several stars, including Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who are resting.
Head coach Rahul Dravid also took a break after matches in England and the Caribbean with VVS Laxman taking charge.
In trouble at 83-6 after being put in to bat by India, the home side rallied with Ngarava scoring 34 and Evans unbeaten on 33.
Ngarava faced 42 deliveries and smashed a six and three fours before being clean bowled by Prasidh Krishna.
Evans also struck a six and three fours, off 29 balls, as Zimbabwe sought in vain to extend a run of nine victories in 11 matches since Dave Houghton became coach in June.
Former batting star Houghton inherited a team demoralised after 3-0 ODI and T20 whitewashes by Afghanistan and led Zimbabwe to series triumphs over Bangladesh in both white-ball formats. The other Zimbabwe batsman to impress was Chakabva, whose 35 runs included four fours.
Axar Patel, Deepak Chahar and Krishna shared the Indian bowling honours with three wickets each.
Although Krishna was the most expensive, conceding 50 runs, he claimed the prized wicket of Zimbabwe middle-order star Sikandar Raza.
Pakistan-born Raza, who scored unbeaten centuries in two of his three ODI innings against Bangladesh, had scored just 12 when he was caught by Dhawan in the slips.
Zimbabwe 189, 40.3 overs (R. Chakabva 35, R. Ngarava 34, B. Evans 33 not out; Axar Patel 3-24, Deepak Chahar 3-27, Prasidh Krishna 3-50) lost to India 192-0, 30.5 overs (Shubman Gill 82 not out, Shikhar Dhawan 81 not out) by 10 wickets Series: India lead 1-0 after first of three matches
India’s Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Shubman Gill bump fists between overs during the first one-day international against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club in Harare yesterday. (AFP)