After enduring a severe backlash over their dismal performance in the ODI series, the Graeme Cremer-led Zimbabwe came back strong to post a competitive total of 170 runs against India in the first T20 International at the Harare Sports Club on 18 June.
MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bowl against the hosts. India handed five T20I debuts to the youngsters in the squad. Rishi Dhawan, Mandeep Singh, Jaydev Unadkat, KL Rahul and Yuzvendra Chahal were all given an opportunity to prove their mettle in the shortest version of the game.
Asked to bat, Malcolm Waller (21-ball 30) and Hamilton Masakadza (15-ball 25) got some runs for their side, but it was the sheer brilliance of Elton Chigumbura that provided the much-needed acceleration to Zimbabwe in the death overs.
The right-handed batsman smashed seven sixes and a four in his unbeaten knock of 54 runs off a mere 26 balls. His blitzkrieg ensured that Zimbabwe got 36 runs in the last two overs.
For India, both the opening bowlers Dhawan and Unadkat proved a tad too expensive for Dhoni's liking. While Dhawan took just one wicket at the expense of 42 runs in his spell of four overs, Unadkat went wicketless for 43 runs.
Chahal, who looked impressive in the ODI series, was also expensive with figures of 1-38 in his four overs. The performance of Jasprit Bumrah (2-24) and Axar Patel (1-18) was the only silver lining for the visitors.
Teams (playing XI)
India: MS Dhoni (c/wk), KL Rahul, Mandeep Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Axar Patel, Rishi Dhawan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaydev Unadkat and Jasprit Bumrah.
Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (c), Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Neville Madziva, Taurai Muzarabani and Donald Tiripano.