HARARE: A second-string India side humbled a full-strength Zimbabwe for the second time in three days to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the one-day international series at Harare Sports Club yesterday. After losing the toss on an overcast morning, Zimbabwe made a promising start thanks to Vusi Sibanda’s half-century before collapsing to 126 all out in 34.3 overs. India made light work of that total on a good pitch, with Karun Nair scoring 39 and Ambati Rayudu finishing unbeaten on 41 to take the tourists home inside 27 overs.
The hosts were on track to eclipse the 168 all out that they managed in a ninewicket loss in Saturday’s series opener, as Sibanda’s fluid 53 carried them to 106 for three at the midway point of their innings. But legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal picked up three wickets in nine deliveries and Zimbabwe lost six wickets for the addition of just 20 runs. “I almost hanged myself,” Zimbabwe interim coach Makhaya Ntini said. “If there was a tomato tree outside I would have hanged myself in that tomato tree. “It’s no good. We have experienced players with us who can easily read the game. We were in the perfect position.” Zimbabwe’s cause was not helped by the fact that Sean Williams, who was drafted in as a replacement for the injured Craig Ervine, took a blow to the finger during the warm-ups and was unable to bat.
Chahal finished with figures of 3 for 25, while seamers Barinder Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni picked up a couple of wickets apiece. India had no trouble knocking off such a flimsy target, with Nair putting on an opening stand of 58 with KL Rahul, who followed up the century he scored on Saturday with 33. Nair and Rayudu then added 67 for the second wicket to take India to the brink of victory, before Manish Pandey sealed the deal. Zimbabwe’s feeble performance led the few supporters in the ground to stage something of a protest against their players, as they held up banners and whistled during the early stages of India’s chase.
One of the placards read: “We cannot support disaster, calamity and quagmire of epic proportions.” “I heard some of the words that came out and they’re obviously not nice. We’re representing our country and they’re as disappointed as we are,” Sibanda said afterwards. “We want them to stand by us when things aren’t going well so we can pull in the same direction, because otherwise we can’t achieve anything.” —AFP