It was Shikhar Dhawan's day at the Harare Sports Club. The dashing opener made the best of three reprieves to slam his third ODI century as India crushed Zimbabwe by 58 runs in the second One-Day International on Friday.
Put in to bat, India were in a spot of bother at 65 for 4, but Dhawan (116) and Dinesh Karthik (69) put on 167 runs for the fifth wicket to restore the innings and put up a commanding 294 for 8.
The tourists then restricted the hosts to 236 for 9 to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
But for late resistance from Elton Chigumbara (46) and Prosper Utseya (52 not out), the margin of victory could have been bigger.
Chigumbara and Utseya added 88 runs for the seventh wicket to frustrate the tourists.
Opener Vusi Sibanda (55) got the innings off to a good start, but Zimbabwe soon lost the momentum as five wickets fell within the span of 24 runs.
Jaydev Unadkat was the pick of India's bowlers with four for 41, while leg-spinner Amit Mishra accounted for two wickets.
The third match of the series is at the same venue on Sunday.
Batting first, India suffered an early jolt, when opener Rohit Sharma was dismissed in the second over. Pacer Brian Vitori scalped him with his first delivery, getting him caught by Vusi Sibanda at second slip.
Dhawan was bowled for three in the fifth over, but survived as Kyle Jarvis had overstepped the mark and the umpires in consultation with the television umpire ruled it a no-ball.
The left-hander soon got another lifeline when he was on 14, in the ninth over, as captain Brendan Taylor spilled a regulation catch; the unfortunate bowler was again Jarvis.
Captain Virat Kohli, who hit a century in the first match, fell in controversial circumstances, caught by Malcolm Waller at mid-on off Jarvis. The umpires initially referred the decision to the television umpire who, despite of inconclusive replays, gave the benefit of doubt to the bowler.
An angry Kohli refused to leave and asked the umpires to reconfirm the decision, which, in the end, stood. He made his way back to the pavilion after scoring 14.
Ambati Rayudu, playing in his second One-Dayer, was also dropped in the 10th over on three, as left-arm seamer Brian Vitori spilled a tough return chance on his follow through and injured his fingers in the process.
India kept losing wickets at regular intervals as Rayudu and Suresh Raina were dismissed in the 14th and 17th overs respectively.
Rayudu, who struggled for five from 25 balls, offered the cover fielder a simple catch off Vitori, while Raina's poor run continued as he was caught behind by wicketkeeper Taylor off Tendai Chatara. Raina has failed to hit a fifty in his last 10 ODI innings.
Dhawan and Karthik then combined well, mixing caution with aggression, by taking singles and rotating the strike in the middle overs.
They took the Batting Powerplay in the 33rd over and lifted the tempo with a few boundaries to take India past 200 in the 40th over.
Dhawan got his third reprieve when on 70 as the fielder at deep square leg let one go through his fingers for a boundary. He made most of the chances and brought up his century from 115 balls, the second fifty coming off 45 deliveries.
Karthik and Dhawan were eventually separated courtesy a run out, the former sacrificing his wicket as both batsmen were stranded in the middle, in the 43rd over.
Karthik was out for a fluent knock of 69 from 74 balls; he added 167 runs for the fifth wicket with Dhawan which put the Indian innings back on track.
In the next over, Dhawan also followed suit when he tried to sweep leggie Prosper Utseya fine but ended up dragging it back on to his stumps.
Ravindra Jadeja (15) and Amit Mishra (9) perished cheaply before R Vinay Kumar swelled the total in the final over as he slammed part-time spinner Sean Williams for a couple of sixes.
Mohammad Shami ended the innings with a huge six over long-on as 23 runs came from the over.
In reply, Zimbabwe lost their way after a good start from their openers. Sikander Raza, who stroked a gritty 82 in the first match, was the first to depart when he mistimed his pull shot off Jaydev Unadkat and was caught at deep square leg by Dhawan for 20 after a 45-run opening stand.
Hamilton Masakadza and Sibanda chose patience over aggression and rotated the strike cleverly before opening up against Vinay Kumar's medium-pace and Mishra's googlies.
Both hit Mishra early on in his spell for a six each while Kumar was pulled for two boundaries in the opening over and taken for 16 runs in his return over in the second spell as the second-wicket partnership looked threatening on an eased out pitch.
Sibanda reached his fifty with a hit off Mishra over long-on for six and, in the process, also took his side's total past 100-run mark.
However, Zimbabwe could not sustain the ascendancy for long as Sibanda failed to covert his innings into a big score after dominating the Indian bowlers with his powerful hits.
His 57-ball 55 knock was laced with seven fours and two sixes before he became Unadkat's second victim.
Four balls later, Taylor (0) was run-out by the bowler, Unadkat, on his follow through as the hosts slipped after a good start.
Ravindra Jadeja added to Zimbabwe's misery with the wicket of Sean Williams, who attempted the reverse sweep but missed and was given out LBW.
The next over saw the soft dismissal of Masakadza, who tried to sweep but offered a simple catch to Shami at short fine leg after scoring 34.
Chigumbara and Utseya never challenged the Indian bowling and opted for some batting practice as Zimbabwe threw in the towel. Chigumbura stroked 46 from 58 balls and Utseya made 52 from 62 balls as the duo put on 88 runs for the seventh wicket before Zimbabwe lost wickets in a heap towards the end.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan
Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images