With a fifty and a century in four innings before today, Ambati Rayudu has clearly taken a liking to Zimbabwe's attack. He might have fallen early in this innings though, as Chamu Chibhabha made a strong case with his lbw appeal when Rayudu had 16. Rayudu then offered another chance when he has reached 25, but Brian Vitori fluffed a fairly straightforward chance at long-on. Rayudu was in sight of another fifty when he finally fell, caught in the deep for 41 in the 42nd over.
Vitori went some way towards making up for his lapse in the field by contributing to Manoj Tiwary's dismissal for 22. Vitori had to get his stocky frame moving and put in a dive in his attempt to hold the catch off Rayudu at long-on, but he was positioned at short fine leg to Tiwary, and the batsman flicked the ball straight into his lap. This time, the catch stuck.
Zimbabwe struggled to hone in on a run-denying length in the first ODI, leaking 90 runs in the last 10 overs. They did a far better job today, none more so than seamer Neville Madziva, who found the blockhole a number of times and got rid of Robin Uthappa with a near-perfect yorker. Madziva's delivery dipped and curled in through the air at pace to beat Uthappa, and he added two more dismissals to finish with a career-best 4 for 49.
With successive hundreds coming into this match, Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura is clearly in a rich vein of form. He looked set to continue it when he eased into his innings with a brace of driven fours off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. But Bhuvneshwar pulled his length back for the final ball of the over and Chigumbura poked an edge towards what looked like the vacant second slip region, only for Ajinkya Rahane to leap horizontally to his right from first slip and cling onto a stunning airborne catch. Once the umpires confirmed that the catch was clean, a disconsolate Chigumbura trudged off. Rahane added another catch and two run-outs to cap a superb day. Jinxy the Cat, indeed.
Rahane aside, India didn't have the greatest day in the field, with a missed stumping and two dropped catches during Zimbabwe's innings. The fielders also contrived to turn what should have been a dot ball into six runs when Chamu Chibhabha was batting. He cut a short ball from Stuart Binny in the 19th over fiercely towards the point fielder, who could only palm the ball towards third man. As the ball drifted through no-man's land, Chibhabha and Sean Williams decided to push for two, and a shy at the stumps went well wide, beating the fielder at mid-on to add four more runs.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town