Chibhabha, Cremer set up maiden T20 win over India
Chamu Chibhabha and Graeme Cremer played starring roles as Zimbabwe finally coalesced their different strengths into a functional, all-round performance to trip up India by 10 runs in the second T20 international
Zimbabwe 145 for 7 (Chibhabha 67) beat India 135 for 9 (Uthappa 42, Cremer 3-18) by 10 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Chamu Chibhabha and Graeme Cremer played starring roles as Zimbabwe finally coalesced their different strengths into a functional, all-round performance to trip up India by 10 runs in the second T20 international.
After Chibhabha's 51-ball 67 helped Zimbabwe put up a total of 145 - one that seemed inadequate at the halfway mark - Cremer garotted India's batsmen with a spell of 4-0-18-3. Zimbabwe seemed to be headed towards another lopsided defeat when Robin Uthappa, who blasted 42 off 25 balls, was in the middle, but Cremer's introduction in the seventh over saw India slip from 56 for 1 to 61 for 4. India took the equation to 25 off 12 balls, but Taurai Muzarabani conceded only six runs in the penultimate over, before Chris Mpofu, buckled India's batsmen in the last over to complete Zimbabwe's first T20 win over India.
India's start had an ominous portent to it when captain Ajinkya Rahane was run-out having been sent back by his opening partner, M
Vijay, who bailed after initially setting off for a run. Uthappa, however, produced an innings that bore no resemblance to his grinding effort in the first T20 international.
Uthappa found his bearings with successive boundaries off Muzarabani, a well-timed cover drive followed by a powerful whip through midwicket. Two overs later, he collected three fours off Mpofu with rasping pulls off the front foot and a cheeky nudge behind short fine leg as India galloped to 57 for 1 at the end of six overs.
It was the first delivery after the Powerplay, however, that brought Zimbabwe back. Cremer, who troubled India two days ago, slipped one past Vijay, and three balls later, had Manish Pandey out lbw, but the ball appeared headed down the leg side.
India lost two more wickets in the next two overs. Uthappa was the prize wicket, as Sean Williams completed a sharp return catch. Kedar Jadhav's departure in the next over was as much because of his laxity as some sparkling fielding from Muzarabani, who produced a direct hit from deep midwicket.
Stuart Binny and debutant Sanju Samson, though, took charge of the restoration job, putting on 36 runs for the sixth wicket. With 41 required off 30 balls, however, India suffered another jolt through Cremer. Binny's attempted thwack over long-off seemed to dip in front of Chibhabha, but the fielder flung himself forward to grab the chance. Zimbabwe's seamers then removed Samson and Axar Patel in successive overs, effectively deciding the result.
India's tactics with the ball appeared to be pre-determined, as they persisted with bowling short. The short-ball gambit was particularly puzzling given that their seamers were getting the ball to move appreciably off a fuller length.
Hamilton Masakadza and Chibhabha were alert to opportunities, swatting away half-trackers between square leg and midwicket. Masakadza, though, was dismissed by Sandeep Sharma, attempting to dab a short delivery that fizzed off the wicket, one ball after carting the bowler for six.
Sikandar Raza, standing in as captain for the first time in international cricket after Elton Chigumbura was injured, showed intent before his slash floated into third man's hands. India's spinners - Axar Patel and Vijay - sent down a few tight overs immediately after the Powerplay in which Zimbabwe scored 49.
But, Rahane didn't have the luxury of a second specialist spinner - Harbhajan Singh was rested - and appeared loath to let Vijay complete his quota. Chibhabha and Sean Williams then knitted together a 37-run partnership for the third wicket.
India's bowlers, though, were chipping away, and Chibhabha found himself without much support at the other end. Once Chibhabha was bowled in the 19th over, the innings stagnated further. Zimbabwe eventually managed 69 runs in the last 10 overs, including 33 in the last five.
Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo