India went from the low of losing comprehensively to Zimbabwe to the high of winning similarly against Sri Lanka in two days. Zimbabwe travelled in the opposite direction with their huge loss to Sri Lanka. The upshot is, despite two unexpected results, the points table wears the expected look: Sri Lanka on top, Zimbabwe last. For their second match, which is potentially crucial to their chances of making the final, both India and Zimbabwe will want to bring their A game.
For the second leg of the tournament, play moves to Harare, which should offer clearer weather, giving Zimbabwe a more even playing field. Their army of spinners will like it, so will their batsmen who struggled when it was overcast in Bulawayo, but made merry when it was sunny. It is not quite the do-or-leave situation, but neither team will want to leave it until they face Sri Lanka, on paper the strongest team in the tournament.
Form guide (most recent first)
ZimbabweLWLLL India WLLWW
Watch out for...
Albeit against lesser teams, Rohit Sharma is showing the will to fight and build an innings. Perhaps it is the added responsibility of no seniors around, but in a week he has taken his ODI average from 25.6 to 31.9, has nearly doubled his List A centuries count, and if he gets a century against Zimbabwe, will equal the world record for centuries in consecutive innings. He will want to carry this confidence and grit into matches against major teams too.
In both the matches, Hamilton Masakadza has got off to rollicking starts. In the first he failed to convert it into a big score, but the rest picked up the ball. In the second, he found himself out of partners. In his hometown, he will want to continue the starts and ideally finish the job himself.
Zimbabwe went in with an unchanged combination against Sri Lanka, and despite that loss in a truncated match they will want to retain the XI that smashed India in the first match.
Zimbabwe (possible) 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Brendan Taylor (wk) 3 Charles Coventry, 4 Greg Lamb, 5 Craig Ervine, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Andy Blignaut, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Prosper Utseya, 10 Chris Mpofu, 11 Ray Price.
India went in with two specialist spinners because of a warm-up injury to R Vinay Kumar, but unwittingly seemed to have found the right combination. They should retain the bowlers, but the openers have presented a case for giving Naman Ojha a chance.
India (possible) 1 M Vijay, 2 Dinesh Karthik/Naman Ojha (wk), 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Suresh Raina (capt), 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Ashok Dinda, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Umesh Yadav.
Stats and trivia
Greg Lamb's batting strike-rate in ODIs is 42.35, and that provides a case for some flexibility when it comes to sending him at No. 3. It worked against India after Zimbabwe had a good start in a full 50-over innings, but against Sri Lanka, when they lost an early wicket in a 26-over contest, it backfired.
Virat Kohli's career average of 51.61 is impressive enough, but in his last 13 matches he has been even better, scoring two centuries, five half-centuries and averaging 67.33.
"Very disappointing. We did not play well, hopefully we will bounce back. Building an innings has been a problem - we lost four wickets in a short space of time." Elton Chigumbura knows the area Zimbabwe need to work the most on