Virat Kohli cracked a scintillating century as India thrashed minnows Zimbabwe by six wickets in the first cricket one-dayer to take a 1-0 lead in the five match series on Wednesday.
Chasing a modest victory target of 228, India rode on captain Kohli’s 115 as they overhauled the target with 31 balls to spare in what turned out to be a lop-sided contest at the Harare Sports Club.
Kohli, who hit a spectacular century againstWest Indies while leading the side in the recently concluded Tri-Series, again led by example to notch up his 15th ODIhundred as he guided the team home after the early dismissals of the two openers.
Ambati Rayudu’s much awaited international debut also turned out to be an impressive one as he struck a responsible unbeaten 63 off 83 balls and more importantly added 159 runs for the third wicket with his skipper.
This was after openers Shikhar Dhawan (17) and Rohit Sharma (20) were dismissed early.
On a seaming track, Kohli showed his class and temperament as he brought about his 100 off only 102 balls with 11 hits to the fence. When he got a little bit of width outside the off-stump, he was quick to play the cover-drive while he rocked back to square cut offie spinner Prosper Utseya through the point region.
Rayudu proved to be the ideal foil as he didn’t play any risky shots and was content in rotating the singles and giving bulk of the strike to his skipper.
The maturity was also evident after he completed his century scampering home for a single with a push towards cover region. There was no exalted celebration after reaching the milestone just a quite acknowledgement of the applause.
He celebrated his landmark with a big six but was soon holed out in the deep off Utseya’s bowling but India by then were within sniffing distance of the target. His 115 came off 108 balls with 13 fours and a six.
Earlier, Zimbabwe scored 227 for seven riding on Pakistan-born opener Sikandar Raza’s gutsy 82 and a 43-run cameo from Elton Chigumbura. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra made a successful return to limited overs cricket with figures of three for 43.
The next match will be played at the same venue on July 26.