HARARE, Harare Province (AFP) – Zimbabwe opener Sikandar Raza hit his maiden half-century in international cricket, but his contribution was outshone by Indian legspinner Amit Mishra's deceptive googly as Zimbabwe posted 228 for seven in the first one-day international on Wednesday.
Raza struck a combative 82 after Zimbabwe were asked to bat in testing conditions, but eventually succumbed to Mishra's googly, which accounted for two other Zimbabwean batsmen.
Mishra finished with figures of 3 for 43 in 10 overs, but his final analysis would have been even better were it not for Elton Chigumbura's late flurry.
Chigumbura helped Zimbabwe take 13 off Mishra's final over, and ended unbeaten on 43 having regularly found the boundary in his 34-ball innings.
India's seamers found lateral movement up front and controlled it well, forcing Zimbabwe to make a circumspect start before attempting to improve their scoring rate in the middle overs.
However their inability to pick Mishra's googly ensured regular wickets, with Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza both falling for the ploy.
Raza provided some impetus when he helped the hosts take 39 runs from the batting powerplay, but his demise in the 44th over left Chigumbura to do all the late hitting.
Chigumbura hit six fours and a six to give Zimbabwe a glimmer of hope, but an improving pitch will give them no more than an outside chance of causing an upset against the top-ranked side in the world