Nervous debutants and dead eye Mohit
Plays of the day from the first T20 between India and Zimbabwe in Harare
There were a remarkable seven debutants in the playing XIs today, but possibly none more nervous than Taurai Muzarabani. A couple of high-fives from his team-mates appeared to do little to steady his nerves and Muzarabani, perhaps striving a little too hard for pace, repeatedly dug the ball in short on a slow track. His first two overs went for an exorbitant 36 runs, including three fours and a six.
There was precious little flight or guile in Graeme Cremer's first over and when he started his second, India were cruising at 82 for 1. Opting for a change of plan, Cremer began to hang the ball temptingly in the breeze, and with a little grip and spin he had Ajinkya Rahane caught at point of a leading edge almost immediately. Cremer continued to loop the ball up, Manish Pandey struggled to get the ball off the square and the legspinner completed a wicket maiden with an indecipherable googly.
The catch that wasn't
Cremer was back in the action in the field in the 17th over, sprinting to his left from long-off to hold a good catch. The only problem was that the catch came off a free hit, with Neville Madziva having overstepped the previous delivery. As Cremer celebrated, the fielders closest to him quickly alerted him to his mistake. Cremer clearly saw the funny side, responding to the gentle jibes from the crowd with a rueful smile.
The debut: Part II
Sandeep Sharma is just 22 years old, but he's not exactly short on Twenty20 experience, having played 43 matches in the format - many of them for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. In all those games, he can't have bowled many overs more expensive than his first in international cricket. Chamu Chibhabha lifted his very first delivery over long-on, holding the pose after his shot. Hamilton Masakadza scooped his fourth delivery for a second six, and a spooked bowler then zinged down two leg-side wides in a first over that leaked 16 runs.
The direct hit
Mohit Sharma had a parsimonious day with the ball, but perhaps his finest moment came in the field. Sikandar Raza flicked a straight ball from Stuart Binny towards deep midwicket, where Mohit came charging in from the fence. Needing to score at more than 15 an over at the time, the batsmen called for an iffy second. Mohit, off balance and with only one stump to aim at, picked up the ball and curled a rifling throw straight on target to run Craig Ervine out. Zimbabwe's hopes of an unlikely win had already faded, but with that dismissal the result was all but sealed.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town