Zimbabwe has ended a run of disappointing defeats with a morale-boosting 10-run win over India in the second Twenty20 international to earn a share of the series.
After Chamu Chibhabha hit a career-best 67 to steer Zimbabwe to 145 for seven, an improved fielding performance under stand-in captain Sikandar Raza Butt allowed Zimbabwe to limit India to 135 for nine at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
The victory was a much-needed shot in the arm for the home side, coming less than 24 hours after Prosper Utseya’s letter alleging racism against Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Alistair Campbell was made public.
Utseya, though, despite this retained his place in the team.
Zimbabwe had lost all three one-day internationals to India as well as the first Twenty20 game, but looked re-energised under the leadership of Raza, who took the reins in the place of the injured Elton Chigumbura.
“We didn’t care what the news was,” Raza said of the Utseya letter.
“All we wanted to do was just go out there and prove a point, and that is that we can win a game.
“We were just competing for far too long, and it’s time that comes to an end. It’s time we start winning.”
With offspinner Harbhajan Singh sitting the game out so that Sanju Samson could make his international debut, Chibhabha enjoyed more time against the seamers and never got bogged down.
The right-hander’s attractive innings came from 51 balls and included nine fours, but nobody else in the Zimbabwe side could manage more than fellow opener Hamilton Masakadza’s 19, leaving India with what appeared to be a moderate chase.
But driven on by Raza’s energy, Zimbabwe produced their best fielding performance in years, inflicting two sharp run-outs and taking several stunning catches.
“We were 57 for one after six overs, but thereafter we lost three or four wickets continuously and from there the pressure built on us,” India captain Ajinkya Rahane said.
“We couldn’t build that one partnership to get us through. We accept that we didn’t bat well.”