Zimbabwe rose from the ashes of an embarrassing one-day series whitewash at the hands of India to shock the tourists by two runs in a thrilling Twenty20 international at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
In a game that went right down to the final delivery, Elton Chigumbura’s unbeaten 54 ultimately made the difference as Zimbabwe took a one-nil lead in the three-match series.
Not many teams can say they have managed to win a match with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the crease with only 8 runs to defend from the last over and that's exactly what Zimbabwe's Neville Madziva bowled a stunning 20th over to take Zimbabwe past the finish line.
India were guilty of losing wickets at key moments to let Zimbabwe back into the game, which went into the final over with Dhoni on strike and India needing eight to win.
Seamer Neville Madziva allowed only singles to leave Dhoni with four to get off the last ball, then kept his nerve to finish with a yorker as India finished on 168 for six.
Dhoni was left frustrated with his batsmen:
“It’s my job (to finish the game), but at the same time we kept losing wickets so I felt the batsmen will have to take the responsibility because quite a few of them were set. It’s important when you’re chasing a total to take it to the end, and that was something that was lacking in this game.”
There was plenty of praise for Zimbabwe for turning it around after their horror show in ODIs
Not many bowlers bowl the last ball to Dhoni and live to tell the tale...Madziva just did. Well played, Zimbabwe. #ZIMvIND— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) June 18, 2016
Well played Zimbabwe. Must look at stats on how often Elton Chigumbura produces innings like these.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) June 19, 2016
Back to back wins for Zimbabwe against India in T20Is. The last match between them, in 2015, was also won by Zimbabwe. #IndvsZim— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) June 18, 2016
Joyous scenes in Harare. Zimbabwe have actually now won five of their last six T20s....and their last two against India. #ZIMvIND— Pavilion Opinions (@pavilionopinion) June 18, 2016
Defending 8 runs in final over in T20 is a real big deal, especially with Dhoni in the middle. Well done Madziva!— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) June 18, 2016
But as always, Twitter was full of sarcasm and humour as fans tried to make sense of this defeat.
You can clearly see Dhoni is not happy about Raghuram Rajan not continuing as RBI governer. #ZIMvIND— Keh Ke Peheno (@coolfunnytshirt) June 18, 2016
Dhoni ko samajhna chahiye ki itne bhi kam log match nahi dekh rahe hain ki Zimbabwe jaisi team se haar jaana chahiye.. #ZIMvIND— Keh Ke Peheno (@coolfunnytshirt) June 18, 2016
Am perfectly okay with Dhoni becoming the next RBI governor.At least in cricket, he has been cutting down my interest rate.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) June 18, 2016
Dhoni is still the best finisher. Earlier he would finish matches for Team India. These days he finishes India's chances of winning.— Udta Lo*endra (@LOLendraSingh) June 18, 2016
Despite fielding five debutants in the format, India went into the fixture as strong favourites because of their experience in the Indian Premier League, only to come away chastened.
Dhoni said after the match:
It’s a levelling experience, by which I mean that you need to give a lot of respect to cricket irrespective of the opposition. You can’t play with your reputation -- what’s important is how well you execute and I felt we were way off today in both the bowling department and in the batting. At the same time credit goes to Zimbabwe because they made the most of that opportunity -- they batted well and bowled the right line.
Zimbabwe’s batting had been dismal in the ODIs, when they failed to score more than 168, but on Saturday they appeared to rediscover their joy for the game as they posted 170 for six.
A familiar batting collapse looked to be on the cards but Chigumbura found form to spark fireworks at the end, hitting seven sixes in his 26-ball knock.
The all-rounder’s innings represented a dramatic turnaround after he had registered back-to-back golden ducks in the final two ODIs, which Zimbabwe lost heavily.
The second game in the three-match series takes place at the same venue on Monday.
With AFP inputs (Featured image: AFP)