Zimbabwe level T20 series

HARARE, July 19

Zimbabwe ended a run of disappointing defeats with a morale-boosting win over India by 10 runs in the second Twenty20 international at Harare Sports Club on Sunday to earn a share of the series.

After Chamu Chibhabha hit a career-best 67 to steer Zimbabwe to 145-7, an improved fielding performance under stand-in captain Sikandar Raza Butt allowed Zimbabwe to limit India to 135-9. Zimbabwe had lost all three ODIs to India as well as the first T20 game, but looked re-energised under the leadership of Raza, who took the reins in the place of the injured Elton Chigumbura.

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.

Robin Uthappa hit nine fours in a 53-run stand for the second wicket with Murali Vijay to give India a runaway start to their chase, but Vijay’s dismissal sparked a collapse in which the tourists lost four wickets for 12 runs in three overs.   Graeme Cremer claimed three crucial wickets, including two in his first over, before finishing with figures of 3-18 in four overs. When Stuart Binny was brilliantly caught in the outfield by a diving Chibhabha to depart for 24, the responsibility was left to India’s lower order. Samson contributed 19, but then holed out in the deep as the Zimbabweans squeezed their opponents right to the end and secured an inspiring win.