HARARE: Opening batters – Shubman Gill and Shikhar Dhawan starred as India cruised to a 10-wicket victory over Zimbabwe on Thursday in the first of three one-day internationals.
Gill (82) and vice-captain Dhawan (81) were unbeaten as the tourists knocked off a modest target of 190 with 19.1 overs to spare at Harare Sports Club.
Zimbabwe used eight bowlers, but none could claim a wicket as the Indian openers struck a six and 19 fours between them.
Richard Ngarava fared worst with the ball, conceding 40 runs in seven overs, while Luke Jongwe restricted the Indian openers to 11 runs in his two-over stint. India, third in the ODI rankings and 10 places above Zimbabwe, travelled to southern Africa without several stars, including Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who are resting.
Head coach Rahul Dravid also took a break after matches in England and the Caribbean with VVS Laxman taking charge.
The home side were all out for 189 in 40.3 overs, thanks largely to a brave 70-run ninth-wicket stand between Ngarava and Brad Evans. In trouble at 83-6 after being put in to bat by India, the home side rallied with Ngarava scoring 34 and Evans unbeaten on 33.
Ngarava faced 42 deliveries and smashed a six and three fours before being clean bowled by Prasidh Krishna. Evans also struck a six and three fours, off 29 balls, as Zimbabwe sought in vain to extend a run of nine victories in 11 matches since Dave Houghton became coach in June.
Former batting star Houghton inherited a team demoralised after 3-0 ODI and T20 whitewashes by Afghanistan and led Zimbabwe to series triumphs over Bangladesh in both white-ball formats. The other Zimbabwe batsman to impress was captain-wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva, whose 35 runs included four fours.
Axar Patel, Deepak Chahar and Krishna shared the Indian bowling honours with three wickets each. Although Krishna was the most expensive, conceding 50 runs, he claimed the prized wicket of Zimbabwe middle-order star Sikandar Raza.
Pakistan-born Raza, who scored unbeaten centuries in two of his three ODI innings against Bangladesh, had scored just 12 when he was caught by Dhawan in the slips.