Cricketers Chatara and Raza star as Zimbabwe stun India in low-scorer

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By CricInfo

  • Hosts defend 115 to take 1-0 lead in five-match T20I series in Harare
  • Zimbabwe 115 for 9 (Madande 29*, Bishnoi 4-13) beat India 102 (Gill 31, Chatara 3-16, Raza 3-25) by 13 runs
  • India’s post T20 World Cup party hit a snag as Zimbabwe stunned the reigning world champions, handing them their first defeat in T20Is in 2024.

Having been restricted to 115 for 9, the Zimbabwe bowlers came out with gusto, picking up wickets at regular intervals to bowl out India for 102 in 19.5 overs.

Tendai Chatara and Sikandar Raza starred with the ball, picking three wickets apiece as India collapsed in a hurry much to the delight of a Harare crowd – Harare Sports Club was packed to the rafters this Saturday.

India, fielding a completely different XI to the one that triumphed in Bridgetown, handed debuts to Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag and Dhruv Jurel and had no hesitation in bowling first after winning the toss.

Zimbabwe started well but Ravi Bishnoi with a T20 career-best of 4 for 13 and Washington Sundar (2 for 11) orchestrated a collapse. At the halfway stage, it seemed like an easy enough chase, but the Zimbabwe bowlers had other ideas.

Abhishek fell for a four-ball duck, Ruturaj Gaikwad for 7, Parag’s debut lasted three balls and Rinku Singh lasted all of two, as India lost four wickets inside five overs. And when Sikandar Raza cleaned up Shubman Gill for 31, the whole of Harare believed.

India needed 16 off the final over with one wicket in hand but still hoped to get through with Washington still around. Chatara, however, bowled a nerveless 20th, conceding just two runs off four balls and claiming Washington off the fifth to spark wild scenes in Harare.

This is the lowest total ever defended against India in a T20I, and the lowest against anyone in Harare. It was Zimbabwe’s first against India in any format since 2016.

The beginning of the take-down

Not many would have given Zimbabwe much of a chance at the halfway stage, but the bowlers found their lengths from the get-go.

Raza opened the bowling with two spinners – Brian Bennett and Wellington Masakadza – and his decision was vindicated immediately; Abhishek top-edged Bennett in the first over to deep backward square leg.

Blessing Muzarabani then got Gaikwad to edge a back of a length ball to slip before Chatara picked two wickets in three balls to really unsettle India.

Parag’s on-the-up drive only went as far as mid-off while Rinku could only manage a top-edge to a well-directed bouncer that ballooned straight up for short fine leg to take a simple catch.

At 28 for 4 after six overs, India were already staring down the barrel.

Zimbabwe finish the job

Gill began the repair work with Jurel but run-scoring remained an arduous task with Raza shuffling his bowlers, who stuck to their lengths.

India managed just two fours between overs six to ten, but also lost Jurel at the end of this period; he was caught at extra cover, deceived by Luke Jongwe’s slower ball.

Raza then landed the big blow, beating Gill all ends up. He got the carrom ball to land on a length and had the Indian captain playing down the wrong line with the ball smashing into off pole.

India were reduced to 47 for 6 in 10.2 overs, which soon became 61 for 7 in the 13th. Avesh and Washington then eased the nerves briefly with an 18-ball 23-run stand but when Avesh smashed a knee-high Masakadza full toss to long-off, Zimbabwe could already taste victory.

Raza castled Mukesh for his third, and even though Washington took Jongwe for 12 in the 18th over, the odds were in favour of the hosts.

With Washington turning down singles, Muzarabani only conceded two off the penultimate over before Chatara closed out the game. This was just Zimbabwe’s third win in nine T20Is this year.

A first-ball wicket, a slew of boundaries

Zimbabwe had the perfect start to their innings when Wessly Madhevere drove Khaleel Ahmed straight down the ground for four. Their joy was short-lived though, with Mukesh Kumar uprooting Innocent Kaia’s leg stump with the first ball of his spell (the second over of the innings).

Bennett and Madhevere, however, took Zimbabwe forward swiftly. Bennett started off with a screeching square drive and then got a thick outside edge past second slip for four more.

Khaleel was then taken for 17 off the fifth over between both batters, albeit in streaky fashion. Bennett first got a – fortunate – boundary over slips before Avesh made a meal of a relatively straightforward chance at deep third. Madhevere then pumped Khaleel through the midwicket and then got another edge over slip as Zimbabwe raced to 40 for 1 after five.

Bishnoi, with his variations, was always expected to be a tricky customer for the Zimbabwe batters and he was among the wickets straight away. Almost exclusively bowling wrong ‘uns – 22 of his 24 balls were wrong ‘uns according to ESPNcricinfo’s logs – he started by cleaning up Bennett for a 15-ball 22. It was a bail-trimmer. In Bishnoi’s next over, it was Madhevere sent back – he missed a slog sweep and his off stump took a beating.

Raza struck a delightful six, straight down the ground off Avesh, while adding 23 off 24 balls for the fourth wicket with Dion Myers. But his wicket brought about a collapse of epic proportions. From 74 for 3 in the 12th over, Zimbabwe slipped to 90 for 9 in the 16th with Bishnoi and Washington the wreckers-in-chief.

A rush of blood got the better of Raza who holed out to deep midwicket off Avesh. A complete breakdown in communication saw Johnathan Campbell run out first ball before Washington picked two in two. He first had Myers caught and bowled before having Masakadza stumped first ball.

 Jongwe survived the hat-trick ball but fell in the next over, lbw to Bishnoi. Bishnoi picked his fourth wicket by removing Muzarabani, Zimbabwe losing six wickets for 16 runs in 23 balls.That Zimbabwe reached 115 was down to an unbroken last-wicket stand of 25 between Clive Madande and Chatara – and how useful those runs would eventually prove.