Man of the Match Brendan Taylor has put down Zimbabwe's six-wicket win over India to a combined effort that was unlike many of his team's performances in the past. "This was a thoroughly good all-round performance on a flat wicket, and it's nice to see the guys chipping in," Taylor, who top scored for his team with 81, said. "We've always struggled in the past when one guy chips in and everyone struggles."
Taylor, during his 103-ball stay, was involved in two major partnerships that set up Zimbabwe's successful chase of a seemingly formidable 285. He added 88 in 13 overs with opener Hamilton Masakadza, and followed it up with a further 63 with Greg Lamb. The second stand consumed 16.3 overs, and when Taylor fell with the score on 176, Zimbabwe's required rate had crept to more than seven-an-over. The flat wicket and the presence of some power-players down the order, however, meant Zimbabwe had to preserve their wickets for a good part of the chase, Taylor said.
"The plan was to basically just keep knocking the ball around. We know we have Andy Blignaut and Elton [Chigumbura] at the bottom there and Charles [Coventry] coming in too. So we've got the firepower to catch up in the end with the batting Powerplay. There wasn't really too much risk to be taken.
"We were trying to bat the way they [India] sort of started; construct the innings pretty well. It was a nice wicket to bat on, [the strategy was to] not lose too many wickets and back yourself to really have a go."
Chigumbura, leading Zimbabwe for the first time, was off the mark with the ball, conceding 26 in an over which included 14 wides and a no-ball, but chipped in during the chase, combining with debutant Craig Ervine in an unbeaten 58-run stand to steer his team home. "It wasn't easy for me," he said of his first match as captain. "I thought I let the team down in the first half but some of the guys played well. We had a good partnership first up which gave us a good foundation to win the game.
"The plan was for the seamers to get one or two wickets to make it easy for the spinners, but it went the other way - only one seamer bowled well. I thought the rest of the spinners bowled well.
"It's a good start for Craig Ervine to score a half-century on debut. The main focus now is to be consistent as a team."
Suresh Raina, unlike his Zimbabwean counterpart, had a poor start to his captaincy, as his bowlers, particularly the inexperienced seamers, failed to measure up in a determined chase by the hosts. The batting Powerplay available to Zimbabwe at the death, with Chigumbura and Ervine cashing in, cost India the game, he said. "It [the target] was defendable. Amit Mishra bowled really well, [Ravindra] Jadeja also. But they still had a Powerplay left at the end, and a couple of their players batted really well. That's what cost the game for us."
The highlight of India's performance was a maiden ODI century from Rohit Sharma, who helped them recover from 67 for 3. The bowling, though, according to Raina, needed improvement if India were to challenge Sri Lanka in their next fixture. "The way Rohit was hitting the ball was remarkable," Raina said. "We need to work on our bowling. A couple of players are playing for the first time, but hopefully they will learn from this mistake."
India take on Sri Lanka in the next game of the series on May 30 in Bulawayo.