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Rahul hits century on debut as India crush Zim in series opener

Last updated on: June 11, 2016 22:55 IST

KL Rahul

IMAGE: KL Rahul in action in his maiden ODI against Zimbabwe in Harare. Photograph: BCCI

KL Rahul became the first Indian to hit a century on his ODI debut as India crushed Zimbabwe by nine wickets in the first One-Day International in Harare, on Saturday.

- Scorecard

Chasing a paltry target of 169, the Indian batsmen hardly broke sweat as they comfortably cruised home in 42.3 overs.

Debutant Rahul completed his coveted three-figure landmark with a huge six over mid-wicket off seamer Hamilton Masakadza, with only two runs needed for victory, to end the match in grand style.

He found an able ally in Ambati Rayudu (62 not out) as they added 162 runs in 38 overs for the unbroken second wicket stand even though the Hyderabadi batsman was not at his fluent best.

Rahul also became the highest individual scorer on debut eclipsing Robin Uthappa's 86 against England on his ODI debut in Indore in 2006.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team were in complete control of the proceedings right from the start as the hosts never looked like putting up a fight during the course of the match, once they were put into bat.

Jasprit Bumrah shone with the ball as he claimed four for 28 as Zimbabwe folded for a lowly 168.

In reply, Rahul and Rayudu kept their composure and were effective without being scintillating as they did not play too many adventurous shots during their partnership.

While Rahul hit seven boundaries and a six in his 115-ball innings, a relatively subdued Rayudu picked up during the second half, hitting five boundaries in 120 balls.

Rayudu, who hit his sixth ODI half-century, also completed 1000 ODI runs during his innings, becoming the fifth fastest to do so in 29 innings.

While Rahul was impressive on debut, another debutant Karun Nair (7) could not cash in on the opportunity as he was dismissed cheaply.

With the pitch being a tricky one, the duo needed time before they started playing their shots. The Karnataka lad, who already has two Test hundreds against Australia and Sri Lanka respectively, hit some attractive cover drives as well as square cuts off both seamers and spinners.

With the target being a small one, building the innings was never a problem as the mediocre bowling attack of the home team hardly proved to be a threat to Rahul and Rayudu as India completed an easy victory to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Jasprit Bumrah

IMAGE: Jasprit Bumrah celebrates a wicket.Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The Indian pacers made good use of the conditions to bowl out hosts Zimbabwe for a meagre 168 in 49.5 overs with Jasprit Bumrah claiming four for 28.

The pace duo of Barinder Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni registered identical figures of two for 42 in their 10 overs, while debutant spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel picked up a wicket each.

Zimbabwe would have found it tough to cross the 150-run mark if it was not for the efforts of Elton Chigumbura, who made a gritty 41 off 65 balls in his 200th ODI match.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, leading a youthful squad in the absence of seniors, had no hesitation in putting Zimbabwe in to bat at the Harare Sports Club.

Leggie Chahal and batsman Karun Nair made their international debut while Lokesh Rahul was picked in an ODI eleven for  the first time.

The Zimbabwe innings never got going with their batsmen struggling against the Indian pace battery.

It was an early morning start and the ball moved around. Sran, who did well in the IPL, was on the money from ball one. He could have had Chamu Chibhabha lbw on his very first ball but the umpire thought the in-swinger did a bit too much, in his first over.

The left-arm pacer, however, did not have to wait long for a wicket as he caught Chibhabha's opening parter Peter Moor in front of the stumps with another inswinger.

The batsmen found scoring extremely difficult before Kulkarni had the experienced Hamilton Masakadza caught behind to make it 30 for two in the ninth over.

Soon, Bumrah made his presence felt by removing Chibhabha (13) and Vusi Sibanda as Zimbabwe kept losing wickets at regular intervals.

IMAGE: Yuzvendra Chahal celebrates his maiden wicket for India. Photograph: BCCI.

The hosts had lost half their side after Axar sent back seasoned batsman Craig Ervine for 21, leaving Zimbabwe reeling at 77 for five in 24 overs.

Chigumbura and Sikandar Raza (23) shared a handy 38-run partnership to steady Zimbabwe somewhat before the latter was bowled off an inside edge by Sran.

Chahal, who was picked in the team after an impressive showing in the Indian Premier League, bowled well on his ODI debut. He picked up his first wicket when he had Richmond Mutumbami caught at long-off in his final over, to finish with one for 27.

All-rounder Chigumbura waged a lone fight as his partners succumbed at the other end. The innings highest-scorer also had a bit of luck on his side as he was out on a no-ball when Bumrah overstepped the line in 48th over.

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