Following the shocking 2-run defeat against Zimbabwe in the first T20 International, MS Dhoni’s India will take field on Monday, hoping for an improved performance in order to keep the series alive. After being outclassed by India in the One-Day International (ODI) series, Zimbabwe on Saturday successfully defended 170 to hand India a narrow defeat to go 1-0 up in the three-match series. The hosts on their part would aim for an encore and try to seal the T20I series in the second game itself and not leave it to the third.
The hosts were better than the young Indian team in both batting and bowling departments on Saturday. First, Elton Chigumbura’s late assault took the team score to a competitive 170 for 6 in their allotted 20 overs. Later, the bowlers, led by Chamu Chibhabha, Taurai Muzarabani and that brilliant final over of Neville Madziva, in which he defended eight runs, earned them the much-needed triumph.
Zimbabwe would like to come up with similar kind of show on Monday and push for a historic series win. Though, it will not be as easy this time around as the bruised Indians will come hard at them.
Going into the first T20I the visitors probably underestimated Zimbabwe, following the surrender in the ODI series. There were five debutants in the Indian squad. The likes of Briander Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni who were successful with new ball during the ODI series, were kept out of the side in order to including Jaydev Unadkat and Rishi Dhawan. The move did not pay off as the two pacers combined gave away 85 runs in their eight overs.
Dhoni in the post-match media conference pointed out that the Indian team was not playing with the best XI. Therefore it is expected the team management will bring back the Sran-Kulkarni combination for Monday’s do-or-die match, after having made to pay for experimenting in the first game of the T20 series. .
The performance of the batting unit on the other hand was also not up to the mark. Apart from KL Rahul, all the other top batsmen in the side, including Dhoni, got starts, but failed to convert them into a match-winning effort. They would like to rectify this as well.
Meanwhile, apart from being outwitted on the field, the Indian team also had to deal with an off-field controversy ahead of this important encounter. According to reports, an Indian member of the sponsor’s contingent was reportedly arrested by local police from the team hotel on Friday night, after being accused of rape charges by a local woman. The team was probably distracted by the events in their hotel with a lot of police and government officials around. They now have to get back their focus and concentrate on the job on hand – to prevent the home team from running away with the T20I series.
It will be interesting to see whether the ‘Men in Blue’ manage to tackle these on- and off-field issues or will Zimbabwe hand India their third T20I defeat in a row.