Zimbabwe – 189 all out in 40.3 overs (Regis Chakabva 35, Richard Ngarava 34, Brad Evans 33*; Axar Patel 3/24, Deepak Chahar 3/27, Prasidh Krishna 3/50)
India – 192-0 in 30.5 overs (Shubman Gill 82*, Shikhar Dhawan 81*)
India won by 10 wickets
There were fighting thirties from the Zimbabwe trio of Regis Chakabva, Brad Evans and Richard Ngarava but, apart from that, India totally dominated the first one-day international at Harare Sports Club on Thursday, cantering to victory by 10 wickets.
The home side were asked to bat first after their long run of winning the toss finally came to an end.
Innocent Kaia and Tadiwanashe Marumani opened the innings, facing up to the bowling of Deepak Chahar and Mohammad Siraj.
Most of the early runs came in the form of extras, byes and wides, as the bowlers struggled at first to find their length and direction, while the batters did not find scoring easy.
In the seventh over, Zimbabwe’s tribulation began, as Kaia, who had laboured to four off 20 balls, tried to pull a short ball from Chahar, and a fine edge was juggled and then caught by the wicketkeeper Sanju Samson – the score was 25.
Marumani (8) followed him back to the pavilion in Chahar’s next over, as he edged a ball that swung way from him and Samson had a simple catch this time – 26 for two.
Sean Williams, on his return to the Zimbabwe team, scored only a single before he nudged a ball from Siraj straight to Shikhar Dhawan at first slip – 31 for three.
Then without addition to the total Wessly Madhevere (5) was beaten by a fine delivery from Chahar that trapped him plumb lbw, and Zimbabwe were reeling at 31 for four in the 11th over.
Chakabva decided that as cautious play was proving futile, the situation needed a more aggressive approach, and he went on the attack, with a two and four off Chahar, and then two successive driven boundaries from Siraj.
Sikandar Raza hit Chahar for a splendid cover drive, but otherwise spent some time playing himself in as the two pacemen were rested, having done their initial job.
Unfortunately, the partnership was not to prosper, as the third seamer, Prasidh Krishn,a had Raza poking at a ball just outside his off stump, and edging another slip catch to Dhawan – he scored 12 and the score was now 66 for five in the 17th over.
Ryan Burl got off the mark second ball with a superb straight-driven four.
Chakabva by now had slowed down a bit, while still attacking the loose balls, and when on 24 he survived a successful lbw appeal and review due to a thin edge of the bat.
Burl decided to open out against Krishna, playing another drive for four through the covers, but then, aiming for a six over long leg, he holed out to the boundary fielder for 11 – 83 for six in the 21st over.
Chakabva and Luke Jongwe took the score past 100 before Chakabva was dismissed for Zimbabwe’s highest individual score of 35, playing an indeterminate shot against Axar Patel’s medium-paced left-arm spin to be bowled out at 107 for seven in the 27th over.
In his next over, Patel struck again with the wicket of Jongwe, whose defensive stroke was beaten and he was given out lbw for 13 – 110 for eight.
There followed at last a good stand between Evans and Ngarava, the latter encouraged by his 34 not out in his last match against Bangladesh.
Evans took longer to play himself in, but then began to look for boundaries, playing a perfectly timed slog-sweep for six off the left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav to take the score to 150.
They put on an invaluable 70 for the ninth wicket, until finally Krishna bowled out Ngarava with a fast yorker for 34, equalling his previous best, having faced 42 balls.
The score was now 180 for nine.
Victor Nyauchi came in next, another to gain confidence after his innings against Bangladesh, and scored two twos and a four off his first three balls.
These were his only runs, though, as in the next over he edged a ball from Patel to slip and the innings closed for a score of 189 in 40.3 overs.
Evans was left unbeaten with his highest ODI score of 33, made off 29 balls – he and Ngarava hit the only sixes of the innings.
There were three wickets each to Chahar, who had started the damage, Krishna and Patel, all the bowlers being quite economical except for Krishna, whose eight overs cost 50 runs.
The Zimbabwe score was a good recovery after being 31 for four, and then 110 for eight, but 189 was not going to be easy to defend.
Ngarava opened the Zimbabwe bowling to Dhawan, who hit his first two deliveries for four each, and then Nyauchi bowled a 10-ball over, costing six runs in wides.
Dhawan and Shubman Gill had no need to hurry, so they took their time and played quietly, taking runs as they came without trying to force matters most of the time.
Dhawan took most of the bowling, but at one stage Gill, not wanting to be left out, hit Evans for three fours in an over.
Dhawan reached his fifty off 76 balls, with the score on 95.
At 137, Gill finally reached his fifty with two successive fours off Burl – he had had so much less of the bowling that it took him only 51 balls to reach the landmark.
Gill hit a four to pass Dhawan on 65, having faced 60 deliveries against his partner’s 100.
At the end Dhawan almost caught Gill again, as he pulled a ball from Evans for four to take India’s total to 192 in 30.5 overs.
Dhawan finished unbeaten with 81 off 113 balls (nine fours), while Gill had 82 off only 72 balls (10 fours and a six).
Zimbabwe’s bowlers plugged away in vain, never actually being taken apart, but unable to stop the fluent flow of runs.
The most economical was Nyauchi, who was only given four overs at the start, from which he conceded 17 runs.
The second one-day international between Zimbabwe and India will take place in two days’ time, also at Harare Sports Club, on Saturday.