Virat Kohli cracked a scintillating century as India thrashed Zimbabwe by six wickets in the first One-Dayer to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series here on Wednesday.
Chasing 228, India rode on captain Kohli’s 115 as it overhauled the target with 31 balls to spare in a lop-sided contest at the Harare Sports Club.
Kohli, who hit a spectacular century against West Indies while leading the side in the recently concluded Tri-Series, again led by example to notch up his 15th ODI hundred as he guided the team home after the early dismissals of the two openers.
Ambati Rayudu’s much awaited international debut also turned out to be an impressive one as he struck a responsible unbeaten 63 off 83 balls and more importantly added 159 runs for the third wicket with his skipper.
This was after openers Shikhar Dhawan (17) and Rohit Sharma (20) were dismissed early.
On a seaming track, Kohli showed his class and temperament as he brought about his 100 off only 102 balls with 11 hits to the fence. When he got a little bit of width outside the off-stump, he was quick to play the cover-drive while he rocked back to square cut offie spinner Prosper Utseya through the point region.
Rayudu proved to be the ideal foil as he didn’t play any risky shots and was content in rotating the singles and giving bulk of the strike to his skipper.
Kohli celebrated his landmark with a big six but was soon holed out in the deep off Utseya’s bowling but India by then were within sniffing distance of the target.
Earlier, Zimbabwe scored 227 for seven riding on Pakistan-born opener Sikandar Raza’s gutsy 82 and a 43-run cameo from Elton Chigumbura. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra made a successful return to limited overs cricket with figures of three for 43.
“It’s always good to kick off a tour with a win and personally I was happy with the way I played. The ball was moving around a bit early on and it was all about percentage cricket, rotating the strike and then playing your shots at the end,” Kohli, man-of-the-match, said.
The next match will be played at the same venue on July 26. — PTI