Harare, July 11: Pushed to the brink before managing a narrow win in the opening ODI, India will have to quickly sort out its middle-order batting woes when it takes on a spirited Zimbabwe in the second one-dayer here tomorrow (July 12).
The visitors huffed and puffed to a narrow four-run win to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. They will now be keen to clinch the series by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead. (New ODI rules)
The Zimbabweans showed why it wouldn't be all that easy for Ajinkya Rahane's men to walk away with wins despite being pre-series favourites on paper. The Indians have much to worry about on the batting front given that the middle order let the side down badly.
Rayudu, whose previous best score was 121, displayed tremendous maturity to steer India to the 250-plus score in the able company of Binny, who also made a career-best 77 off 79 balls.
The likes of Murali Vijay (1), Manoj Tiwary (2) and skipper Ajinkya Rahane himself will have to come up with improved performances to ensure that India do not find themselves in another embarrassing position again in the series.
Zimbabwe, to their credit, showed stomach for a fight and skipper Elton Chigumbura epitomised that with a gallant umbeaten 104-run knock. Given the spirit shown by the hosts, the series has found the spark that a battle of unequals needs to invoke interest.
The home team's sprightly attitude was also helped to an extent by India's bowlers, who consistently erred in line and length.
Although left-arm spinner Axar Patel and Stuart Binny shared four wickets between them but senior pro Harbhajan Singh will be expected to make a greater impact in his comeback ODI series.
India: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu (wicketkeeper), Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav (wicketkeeper), Robin Uthappa (wicketkeeper), Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Regis Chakabva (wicketkeeper), Sean Williams, Chamu Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami (wicketkeeper), Tinashe Panyangara, Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.
Match starts 12.30 PM IST
3rd and final ODI on Tuesday (July 14)