Zimbabwe tour: Deepak Chahar and openers toy with hosts
Making a comeback nearly six months after being grounded by injury, Deepak Chahar’s probing new-ball spell was followed by an unbroken 192-run opening stand by Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill as India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series at the Harare Sports Club on Thursday.
Chahar, Prasidh Krishna and Axar Patel picked up three wickets each to restrict the hosts to 189 in 40.3 overs.
India’s openers needed only 30.5 overs to reach the target which meant stand-in captain KL Rahul didn’t get the opportunity to reassure the selectors of his form. India’s pacers rattled the Zimbabwe top-order with swing and bounce as Chahar and Krishna made most of the early moisture on the wicket.
They were reduced to 31 for four and then 110 for eight before a 70-run ninth-wicket partnership between Brad Evans and Richard Ngarava helped them reach a respectable total. Man of the Match Chahar showed that he hadn’t lost his rhythm and control during his opening spell of 7-0-27-3.
He swung the ball both ways as the home batsmen struggled against quality pace. If he can continue in the same mode in the remaining matches, he is sure to put the rest of the pace pack under pressure in their quest for a berth in the T20 World Cup squad.
“I can’t say if I will be selected or not as that’s not in my hands but skill-wise I have worked very hard. I think I have picked up from where I had left and today (Thursday) also barring the first two overs, I bowled well. I bowled seven overs at one go which is an indicator that my fitness levels are okay,” Chahar said.
“My plan remains simple, when the ball is swinging try to bowl fuller length and take wickets. If the ball isn’t swinging, then there is a plan ‘B’ or ‘C’. Today, it was swinging... So it was simple — bowl a fuller length, mix the swing and confuse the batter,” the pacer said.
Gill (82 not out off 72 balls) and Dhawan (81 not out off 113) then put on their third 100-plus stand in the last four innings in perfect batting conditions. They started off cautiously, unwilling to commit any harakiri, before unleashing a barrage of boundaries. Dhawan though survived a dropped catch off Sean Williams. Rahul was happy with the bowlers. “It was good to see them bowl in the right areas and be disciplined,” Rahul said at the post-match presentation.
“Being away from the game is hard. Rehab and everything everyday gets boring. We’d rather be playing 365 days than be with the physio.”