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Raina, Dhoni Unbeaten Partnership Comes to India’s Rescue against Zimbabwe at Eden Park

india new odiNew Delhi, Monday, March 16 – Saturday came with lots of surprises for Indian cricket fans as the ‘Men In Blue’ logged a victory, which wasn’t apparent when India lost their 4 wickets early while chasing the target of 288 runs.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to field first. The decision was expected given that India like to bat second. Despite the fact that Eden Park, Auckland, wasn’t jam-packed as other grounds during India versus Pakistan and India against South Africa matches, excitement among the crowd was something to applaud.

Zimbabwe started their innings with some quick jolts in view of the fact that the openers Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza were sent back to the pavilion by Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav at the scores of 7 and 2, respectively. The new batsman Solomon Mire did not succeed to read the mood of deliveries by Indian bowlers and dismissed at the score of 9. But what happened after his dismissal gave Zimbabwe a chance to heave sigh of relief at least for some time. Brendan Taylor played a captain’s innings and pocketed a brilliant ton. With the help of 15 boundaries and 5 sixes, the wicketkeeper-batsman scored 138 of 110 balls.

Sean Williams also brought a little bit stability and struck a half-century in 57 balls. The 28-year-old left-handed cricketers hit 3 sixes and same number of boundaries to attain a fifty against India in a crucial contest. It was terrific catch by Ravichandran Ashwin that brought Williams’ knock to an end. Taylor, who was playing his last his last One-Day International match, kept on sending the balls into the fences from the other end before throwing his wicket to Mohit Sharma. An amazing catch by Shikhar Dhawan gave India a much needed breakthrough.

Craig Ervine was out for 27 runs and Sikandar Raza at 28 runs. Accumulation of runs slowed in the slog overs. Regis Chakabva and Tinashe Panyangara failed to take the team’s score higher and lost wickets correspondingly at 10 and 6 runs. Tendai Chatara was out for a duck. Tawanda Mupariwa added only a single. At the final game of knockout stages, India once again got 10 wickets.

287 runs were achievable for India having a big lineup of dynamic cricketers from top to bottom. However, Zimbabwe surprised them by bowling in accurate line and length. Even though the opener Rohit Sharma hit a couple of boundaries, he seemed to be in a bit hurry. Selection of a wrong shot made him depart early at 16 runs. Dhawan couldn’t make use of the opportunity and succumbed to Tinashe Panyangara in the seventh over. Losing two wickets in a single over gave a big shock to India. For a moment it looked as if India are going to lose. Ajinkya Rahane was unlucky since he turned a run out victim when Sikandar Raza threw the ball towards the wicketkeeper without any delay. His prompt efforts gave his teammates to jump in joy. Despite being in into the crease, Rahane was declared out as his bat was in the air. He dived as much as possible but it wasn’t sufficient.

Virat Kohli, who is known for imparting huge role in India’s victory on more than a few occasions, played a small but impressive inning of 38 runs. Failing to read a spell by Sikandar Raza compelled him go back to the dressing room. Kohli’s expressions post throwing his wicket at a time when India required it the most were adequate to tell how disappointed was he with himself for not playing a big knock. Nonetheless, Suresh Raina realized the need of keeping the calm and exhibiting an astonishing play. Dhoni, at the other end, kept on doing his job in the best way possible.

Raina demonstrated a kind of play for which he is famous in 50-50 over game. The middle order batsman attained 110 runs in 104 balls. His ton comprised 9 fours and 4 sixes. Even though Dhoni fell short of 15 runs to hit a century but he perfectly did his bit through singles, 8 boundaries and a couple of biggies. The start wasn’t good enough for India but an unbeaten partnership between Raina and Dhoni came at a time when victory for Zimbabwe seemed almost certain and many predicted that the men in red caps will bid adieu to the 2015 World Cup with a win. Had the Indian duo not been able to hold the fort at that time, the winning streak of the defending champions would have ended then and there. Raina was awarded ‘man of the match’. With 6 triumphs in hand, India will contest against Bangladesh on Thursday, March 19, at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne.

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