Zimbabwe finally lived up to their potential as they registered their first ever T20 International (T20I) against India at Harare. They put in a professional performance against a second-string Indian team and managed to outplay their opponents in every department. Sikandar Raza led the team for the first time in the absence of regular skipper Elton Chigumbura and the team responded very well.. Although, Zimbabwe’s win came right at the end of the tour, Pramod Ananth opines, if Zimbabwe can play the same level of cricket in every match, they can surely be a force to reckon.  

Zimbabwe were looking down and out in the tour so far, but they eventually had the last laugh. They not only levelled the two-match series, but did so in convincing fashion. Raza was leading the team for the very first time and did a commendable job. They always had the potential to perform but they have ever performed as a unit. The win against India just proved what they can achieve when their batting and bowling click. READ: India lost to Zimbabwe in 2nd ODI due to poor batting, says Ajinkya Rahane

Chamu Chibhabha is no doubt a talented batsman. He proved his worth again by scoring an eye-catching 51-ball 67, taking on all bowlers and playing risk-free cricket. His innings proved that you don’t have to be flashy in the shortest format, playing orthodox shots and taking ones and twos would suffice. Zimbabwe kept losing wickets at regular intervals but Chibhabha stayed at the crease and guided his team to a respectable total.  Zimbabwe, no doubt, would have been disappointed not to have added a further 15 runs, considering the excellent stage they were in, but they did put up a fighting total eventually. SCORECARD: India vs Zimbabwe 2nd ODI at Harare

But it was their bowling that won them the game today. For starters, they started out with spinner Prosper Utseya. His experience came in handy as he did not let the batsmen get easy runs. When skipper Raza figured out that the pace bowlers were going for runs, he introduced two more spinners—Sean Williams and Graeme Cremer. The batsmen, especially Robin Uthappa took special liking to Williams, but the leg spin of Cremer foxed most of the batsmen and he eventually finished with 3 for 18 in his 4 overs. Plus, the fast bowlers too bowled sensibly in the death. They bowled slow deliveries outside off, which was very difficult for the batsmen to hit.

Zimbabwe will hope that this performance propels them to greater heights. India might have fielded a second string team in the series but the same team decimated the hosts in the One-Day Internationals (ODI) before this. The hosts will be happy to have finally gotten off the mark on this tour, but whether they can put in the same performances day in, day out is to be seen.

In the last two months or so, we have seen Zimbabwe come close to a win, but have faltered in the latter stages. They will have to determine where their strengths lies and focus on them. They will also have to rectify their weaknesses. But the most important thing will be to think on their feet. They will have to alter their plans, if things are not going according their wish. This is where the captain and some of the senior pros could come in handy. They often drop their heads when there is a long partnership developing and when they lose wickets, Zimbabwe lose them in a hurry. This is where the temperament of each and every player will be thoroughly tested.

Zimbabwe can go two ways from here. They can either take this confidence into the upcoming matches or they can just be complacent and go back to their world ways. With the talent that they have one can only hope that they rise to the occasion every time.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)