The shorter the contest, the tighter the contest. Zimbabwe, outclassed in all three ODIs, pulled off their second successive T20 win over India, by two runs to go 1-0 up in the T20I series.
It came down to Indian captain MS Dhoni and what he could do with the last ball, as it has so many times in his career. India needed four runs in last ball, and Neville Madziva bowled a wide slower ball. Dhoni, jumping across to reach it, slapped it wide of deep point, but not well enough to take his team over the line like he’s reputed to.
Zimbabwe set India a target so enticingly out of reach was down to one man, Elton Chigumbura, who struck seven sixes in an unbeaten 26-ball 54, and was the key reason for Zimbabwe scoring 59 off their last 5-overs.
Jasprit Bumrah had been the best of India’s bowlers, giving way only 10 off his first three overs, but Chigumbura wouldn’t spare him either, when he came back to bowl the final over.
India’s new-look batting line-up was facing its first proper test of the tour. The chase began badly. KL Rahul only lasted one ball on T20I debut, chopping Tiripano on. India lost their second wicket at the end of the Powerplay – but not before Mandeep Singh, another debutant, and Ambati Rayudu had struck eight fours in a partnership of 44.
Dhoni and Manish Pandey kept India on course with 53 in 30 balls. Pandey’s dismissal – slicing a full, wide ball from Muzarabani wider than intended – in the 18th over left India needing 28 from 16, and Axar’s hitting brought it down to eight off the last over. They had all but won it, but they ran into a last-over expert.
Elton Chigumbura may have redeemed himself with a sensational half-century, but Zimbabwe found a brand new hero. Madziva, ran in and bowled with admirable accuracy to make Dhoni reach out for yet another delivery wide outside the off-stump. Neville had just pulled off the unthinkable – a moment that will be told and retold to generations of Madzivas to come.
“When you’re bowling death, what I realised from the couple of matches I’ve played is that you don’t have to rush yourself. So I had to take my time, calm myself down and bowl. Obviously, when he (Dhoni) was there, I didn’t look at the name honestly. Because if I had that in mind, the first ball was going to go for a six and next for a four. I just told myself, I am just bowling to any other guy here and I am just going to stick to my plans.” Madziva
“It’s not for me. If I had to bat up, I could easily bat at four for this team. But what is important is for these youngsters to bat at that number because this is an opportunity for them. The only reason I am here is to understand them and at the same time guide them as to what has to be done,” MS Dhoni.