Going into the last match of their Pool B clash against Zimbabwe, India survived a major scare while powering their way to victory. India would have been mightily embarrassed had not gritty Suresh Raina come up with a fighting ton and MS Dhoni’s signature style finishing coming in handy at the right time . It was the duo’s performance that helped India to a narrow six-wicket win over Zimbabwe – their sixth in a row and one that sealed a quarterfinal with Bangladesh on March 19 in Melbourne. Dhoni and Raina ‘s heroics spoiled Zimbabwean star bat Brendan Taylor’s dream farewell in his last match in Zimbabwe colours. Taylor scored a brilliant 138 and took Zimbabwe to a fighting 287. Thus asking India to chase an imposing 288.
India at one stage were staring a possible humiliation with score reading 92 for 4 . But a 196-run unbeaten stand, which is a new Indian record for the fifth-wicket partnership, between Dhoni and Raina dashed all Zimbabwe plans of a winning party for Taylor.Raina’s 110* and Dhoni’s 85* and after steadying the ship rocked early by Tinashe Panyangara, the duo kept shifting gears to ultimately finish the game in 48.4 overs.
Earlier, after MSD opted to field after winning the toss , India started things off in fine fashion as Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav gave India the early breakthroughs. Zimbabwe were in a spot of bother after losing the top order but Sean Williams (50) brought his A game to the park as he kept the scoreboard ticking and runs came think and fast in that partnership between Williams and Taylor that yielded 93 runs.
Williams was dismissed by R Ashwin but Ervine (27) continued the good work done by Williams by putting up a 109-run stand with Taylor, who eventually got out to Mohit Sharma, ending his career spanning over 10 years with Zimbabwe. Sikandar Raza (28), then came to the party as he smashed the Indian attack all around the park that took Zimbabwe to a more than defendable total of 287 runs.
India, for the second time in the tournament after the match against West Indies, were put to test by some very good Zimbabwean bowling that got rid of the openers -Rohit Sharma (16) and Shikhar Dhawan (4). Ajinkya Rahane also did not last long (19). India were in a spot of bother with the score on 71 for 3 and Kohli’s untimely dismissal gave Zimbabwe more than a chance to pull of an upset.
But Dhoni and Raina had other ideas and were equally helped by some sloppy Zimbabwean fielding and helping India finish on top. The win maintained India’s clean sheet in Pool B, which Dhoni’s men topped with 6/6 wins and having bowled out all their six opponents. India’s spinner were dismal in the match R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja ended with figures of 1 for 75 and 0 for 71 respectively.