Abhishek makes 100 after zero to lead emphatic Indian reply in second T20I

Team India vs Zimbabwe in 2nd T20I
Team India vs Zimbabwe in 2nd T20I (PC: Zimbabwe Cricket)

It was India’s turn to make Zimbabwe pay for beating them in the first T20I a day earlier. The same pitch on which they had crumbled for 102, the Men in Blue plundered 234/2, which effectively ended the contest in the first half of the match. The home team could only manage 134, which saw India win by the unusual margin of 100 runs.

It was Abhishek Sharma’s day to show how quickly fortunes can change. Out for a duck on India debut, the left-handed opener rode a bit of luck, but then launched an assault that this bunch of Zimbabwean bowlers had never suffered. He kept hitting sixes and fours and made 100 off 47 balls. There were eight sixes and seven fours in his innings.

Ruturaj Gaikwad (77 not out off 47 balls, 11×4, 1×6) and Rinku Singh (48 not off 22 balls, 2×4, 5×6) were not far behind in making the most of some ordinary bowling and poor catching from the Zimbabweans, who were a lot better in these departments 24 hours earlier. The furious assault led to 82 runs being scored in the last five overs.

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Abhishek Sharma scoring century vs Zimbabwe
Abhishek Sharma scoring century vs Zimbabwe (PC: Zimbabwe Cricket)

India’s start was bad once again, with captain Shubman Gill falling for two in the second over. Gaikwad was nearly caught and bowled next ball by Blessing Muzarabani and at 36/1 after six overs, India were not looking great. The turning point of the match came in the eighth over when Wellington Masakadza dropped a sitter running in from long-off. Abhishek was on 27 and Luke Jongwe the hapless bowler.

Known for his blistering knocks for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Abhishek made Zimbabwe pay a heavy price. He took 28 off the 11th over bowled by part-timer Dion Myers and it went on and on. Not many score a 100 in a T20I after getting out for zero a day earlier. The player from Punjab kept pounding the attack and the runs started flowing with a sort of inevitability not seen very often.

Gaikwad and Rinku also joined the party and the latter’s 104-metre six over extra-cover was an outrageous effort. Zimbabwe kept dropping catches and the Indians took optimum advantage of those lapses. India finally posted the highest-ever T20I total in Harare, overtaking the 229 made by Australia in 2018.

Little was expected of the home team’s reply with the bat, and after a few early hits by Brian Bennett, their effort fizzled out. Avesh Khan and Mukesh Kumar took three wickets each to complete an emphatic Indian response after the setback in the first match. The third T20I comes up on July 10 and expect India to come out hard once again.

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