Patel shines as India win

HARARE, July 17

A superb spell of bowling on debut from young left-arm spinner Axar Patel helped India cruise to a 54-run victory over Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 International at the Harare Sports Club on Friday.

The 21-year-old took 3-17, including the key wicket of home skipper Elton Chigumbura. India won the toss and elected to bat, posting 178-5 from their 20 overs. The top three of Ajinkya Rahane (33), Murali Vijay (34) and top-scorer Robin Uthappa (39 not out) ensured a fast start at a run-a-ball, though the tourists were later pegged back by Zimbabwe seamer Chris Mpofu, who finished with figures of 3-33.

Zimbabwe lost their first wicket in the eighth over of their reply, but were always behind the run-rate. Hamilton Masakadza top-scored with 28 from 24 balls, before he became the first wicket for Patel. When the left-armer got rid of Chigumbura later in the same over, the Zimbabwe innings faltered further and they ended up finishing on 124-7 from their 20 overs, well short of their target.

Harbhajan Singh, back in the India Twenty20 side for the first time in almost three years, also excelled with the ball as he took 2-29 from his four overs. The final match of the series is on Sunday.