Virat Kohli 115 off 108 deliveries and debutant Ambati Rayudu 63 not out in 84 balls powered India to a six-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the first One-Day International (ODI) at Harare on Wednesday.
It looked like the walk in the park for Kohli who constructed a near perfect knock in a modest run-chase. He drove with élan, cut ferociously, pulled with grace and also employed dab shots which was personification of elegance in subtleness. Kohli was in total control of his innings and brought about his 15th ODI century — his ninth in the second innings of an ODI.
Kohli, who scored 115 (13 boundaries and one six), added 159 for the third-wicket with Rayudu and looked confident. Rayudu (63 not out; four boundaries) bided his time in the beginning and looked content on taking the singles and complimented Indian captain well.
Rayudu brought about his maiden half-century in the 40th over of the innings. Two balls later Kohli brought the three-figure score with consummate ease. After the duo reached the milestone Tinotenda Mutombodzi, the leg-spinner, was attacked. Kohli smashed him for two fours and a straight six while Rayudu used his feet and hit a square-drive.
Kohli perished for 115 after going for the big hit against off-spinner Prosper Utseya. The 159-run alliance had done lion share of the job. After Kohli’s dismissal Suresh Raina was dismissed two balls later when he failed to keep a drive down against Utseya. That was a late consolation for Zimbabwe but the game was as good as over for the home team by that time.
India started off the run chase in a positive manner with Shikhar Dhawan taking on the Zimbabwe bowling. In the fourth over of the innings Dhawan creamed Kyle Jarvis through covers and square off the wicket on the off-side for a couple of boundaries. Tendai Chatara’s short delivery was pulled by Dhawan, and things looked ominous for Zimbabwe. But Jarvis bounced out Dhawan and got the first breakthrough for the home team. Dhawan was uncomfortable in hooking a delivery that climbed a bit on the Indian opener who got good amount of bat onto the ball but it went straight to the hands of deep fine-leg to end his enterprising innings of 17.
Rohit Sharma took his time to settle. He looked set to score a big innings but a lazy booming drive off Elton Chigumbura brought about his downfall. Rohit didn’t move his feet and was out driving a ball away from the body. He was out caught behind for a cautious 40-ball 20.
Kohli-Rayudu had batted the home team out of the game. The two batted without any pressure and milked the Zimbabwean attack.
Earlier Zimbabwe posted 228 for seven courtesy of a 112-ball 82 by opener Sikandar Raza. Amit Mishra was India’s best bowler (three for 43). In the end India chased down the total easily and took 1-0 lead in the series.
Zimbabwe 228 for 7 in 50 overs (Sikandar Raza 82, Elton Chigumbura 43*; Amit Mishra 3 for 43) lost to India 230 for 4 in 44.5 overs (Virat Kohli 115, Ambati 63*; Prosper Utseya 2 for 34) by 6 wickets.
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)