The delivery,the lazy poke at the ball,and its trajectory en route to keeper Brendan Taylor were all identical to the one four overs earlier. The bowler obviously was the same too. On that previous occasion,the Zimbabwean captain had held onto the ball rather comfortably setting off a boisterous celebration in the hosts camp. Unfortunately,replays caught Kyle Jarviss long left leg landing just centimetres in front of the popping crease,resulting in the mid-wicket party having to be called off abruptly.
This time around,the ball once again caught the edge of Shikhar Dhawans bat,and Taylor probably couldnt believe his luck at getting a second opportunity to get rid of the dangerous Indian opener. The ball though agonizingly bounced off his gloves and fell safely to the ground,leaving the skipper holding his head in shock and despair. Dhawan was batting on 14 and he had scored 11 runs since his last reprieve.
Within the first half hour of play,it had become obvious that it was Dhawans day. And that nothing he touched would refuse to turn to gold,and add to Zims woes.
He had celebrated his first escape with gusto,smashing Jarvis for consecutive fours. And here with fortune smiling on him again,Dhawan decided to pay back the hosts for their generosity with an array of boundaries,eventually notching up his third ODI ton. That doubled with Dinesh Karthiks return to form took India to 294/8,a target that proved too much of a mountain to climb for Zimbabwe.
To say that Dhawans day was a fortituous one would be an understatement. But till the time he got together with Karthik to resurrect the Indian innings with the score reading 65/4,it was the Zimbabwe fast bowlers who were calling the shots in helpful conditions.
Impressive opening spell
What Jarvis and left-armer Brian Vitori also did with their impressive new-ball spells was expose the inherent weakness of Indian batsmen against the moving ball,setting an ominous precedent for tougher battles ahead. The toss was always said to be crucial at Harare. But up against the lowest-ranked team in the world,it shouldnt have mattered for the world champions.
But it was obvious from the opening over from Jarvis itself that the Indians techniques would be tested to the fullest. Rohit Sharma was first on the dock,and after an edgy beginning,where he prodded and missed,he fell to an angled delivery from Vitori for just one. Virat Kohli did look fairly more comfortable but only when the ball was pitched too full or on his pads. Jarvis and Vitori still held the upper hand over the captain and kept him on a leash before he fell to a loose shot.
The free-stroking Ambati Rayudu struggled the most against the Zimbabweans swing and seam,hardly putting bat to ball before eventually getting out to an audacious swipe. Suresh Raina got a snick down the leg-side,leaving India in tatters. The situation could easily have been far more humiliating. If only the Zimbabweans had held onto their catches or shown more discipline in the field.
Dhawan and Karthik to their credit did buckle down and decide to bide their time. And once the frontline bowlers were done with their early spells,the pitch settled down and the Indian pair put the rest of the Zimbabwean attack to the sword,making the most of their amateurishness.
Breaking the leash
Then came a flood of boundaries and sixes with Dhawan taking charge. He eventually ended up with 116,having shared a 167-run stand with Karthik,who made 67.
The younger Indian bowlers made a far better impression,making the most of the conditions with Jaydev Unadkat finishing with figures of 4/41,leading India to a 2-0 lead in the series.
Controversial Kyle catch leads to controversial Kohli exit
Harare: Miffed at being given out to a controversial catch,an incensed Indian captain Virat Kohli argued aggressively with on-field officials even after the third umpire ruled against him here on Friday.
Kohli had attempted to go over mid-wicket off Kyle Jarvis in the seventh over but Malcolm Waller latched on.
The captain then stood his ground even as an unsure Waller sought a review from the umpire to check for the catchs cleanliness. The third umpire adjudged Kohli out even though the replays were unclear.
At that point,Kohli had smacked two fours for his 14 runs and was looking good for more. He refused to leave even after that and argued his case once again with the umpires,Owen Chirombe and Bruce Oxenford,who confirmed the decision through their walkie-talkies.
Eventually,the centurion from the first game walked back to the pavillion visibly upset with the decision.PTI