Brendan Taylor and Craig Ervine guided Zimbabwe a morale-boosting six-wicket victory over India [ Images ] in the first match of the triangular ODI series at Bulawayo on Friday.
Chasing a formidable target (286), Zimbabwe cruised home with 10 balls to spare.
It was a forgettable debut for Suresh Raina [ Images ] in his first match as India captain.
All the Zimbabwean batsmen made significant contributions, with Craig Ervine (67) staying on till the end to see his side home.
Taylor played the sheet anchor's role to perfection, top-scoring with 81.
The Zimbabwen innings was a story of partnerships, and the one that took them home -- between Ervine and captain Elton Chigumbura (24 not out) which yielded 58 runs (off just 32 balls) for the fifth wicket.
The Indian bowling attack included three debutant seamers -- R Vinay Kumar, Ashok Dinda [ Images ], Umesh Yadav -- and their inexperience was all the more exposed by the aggressive Zimbabwean batsmen.
The trio conceded a whopping 148 runs in the 23.2 overs they shared between them, with only Vinay (two for 51) being among the wickets.
At the end of it all, it was a comfortable win for Zimbabwe and yet another humiliating performance by Team India -- following the early exit at the World T20 in the West Indies [ Images ].
It can be favourably argued that this Indian team is a depleted one. But, on the other hand, it's also a fact that even a second string Indian side should have comfortably beaten this Zimbabwean side.
However, it wasn't to be. Application once again triumphed over talent.
Zimbabwe got off to a good start and were well in control at the halfway stage of their innings.
Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza put on 88 runs for the opening wicket -- in just 78 balls -- to lay the foundation for the innings.
Masakadza made an entertaining 43-ball 46, inclusive of five hits to the fence and one over it, before Amit Mishra [ Images ] cleaned him up.
However, Taylor went on to reach his half century and carry forward his side's hopes with an equally important partnership for the second wicket with Greg Lamb (27) that yielded Zimbabwe a further 63 runs.
The two good partnerships up the order put the home team in a comfortable position -- at 151 for one in the 30th over.
It was here that the visitors struck twice in the space of five overs to get back into the game.
Lamb was the first to depart -- unfortunate to be given out leg before to Ravindra Jadeja [ Images ] when the ball appeared to be going down the leg side.
And when R Vinay Kumar had Taylor caught by Umesh Yadav at fine leg, Zimbabwe, for the first time in their innings, seemed threatened.
Taylor's 103-ball knock was inclusive of four hits to the fence and two over it.
However, Charles Coventry (32) and Craig Ervine put in 55 runs for the fourth wicket to steady the ship.
With 65 runs required from the last eight overs, Coventry hoisted Vinay Kumar over long-off for his third maximum.
Four balls later, the bowler had his revenge, cleaning up Coventry with a well-disguised slower delivery.
But, by then, the home team was ready to give the final thrust.
With 42 required off the final five overs, the batting power play was taken.
And the result was instant: the 46th over (by Yadav) cost India 18 runs.
The end result was a mere formality.
Earlier, a spectacular century by Rohit Sharma [ Images ] helped India to a formidable 285 for five in their stipulated 50 overs.
Sharma's magnificent 114 came off just 119 deliveries and was inclusive of six hits to the fence and four huge ones over it.
It was the 23-year-old's first ODI ton, and he brought it up in style, with a massive six (his fourth) over cover off Ray Price.
Ravindra Jadeja also contributed handsomely with a run-a-ball 61, which included five boundaries.
The Zimbabwean bowlers, particularly the spinners, with their disciplined bowling, had prevented the Indian batsmen from cutting loose for most part of the innings. After 40 overs, India were 177 for four.
Three quick wickets, two of them unnecessary run-outs, had pegged back the Indians considerably.
However, the hosts were guilty of losing their stranglehold in the final 10 overs, which witnessed India score a whopping 108 runs.
Sharma's 67-run fourth wicket stand with captain Suresh Raina (37) put the innings back on track and his 132-run fifth-wicket partnership with Jadeja helped India to a comfortable, and possibly match-winning total.
Earlier, the Indian innings got off to a steady start.
Elton Chigumbura, Zimbabwe's second seamer, was at his generous best, giving away 36 runs in his first two overs, with 26 of them -- including 17 extras -- in his second.
Chris Mpofu, on the other hand, was far more impressive than his bowling partner.
Spin (Ray Price) was introduced as early as the sixth over. And the move worked with the flow of runs getting restricted.
Then came the double strike. Vijay first ran himself out, with an effort that left much to be desired from the promising youngster.
In the next over, Chigumbura had a direct hit to run-out Virat Kohli [ Images ] (0). The latter hadn't even faced a ball.
And Prosper Utseya got an outside edge of the settled Karthik's blade -- with keeper Brendan Taylor making no mistake, India's woes increased.
Rohit Sharma and Raina started rebuilding the innings thereafter, and though the road was tedious, the duo ensured there was no further losses.
The duo put on 67 runs for the fourth wicket to help India recover from the slump that they were in after being 61 for three at one stage.
However, just when things seemed going India's way, the resilient Mpofu gave himself reward for all the hard work and his side a crucial breakthrough.
Raina was guilty of slashing at an away going (read wide) delivery and Taylor made no mistake behind the stumps.
Raina's 53-ball 37 included just a couple of hits to the fence.
The skipper's departure witnessed the arrival of Ravindra Jadeja to the crease.
And the latter, together with the by-now-well-settled Sharma ensured their team eventually got to a total that it had set out to achieve.
Earlier, Suresh Raina, in his first internattional assignment as a captain, called correctly and opted to bat first.
"We are keen to do well here and hope for the best," said Raina, adding, "We are raring to go."
All the three frontline seamers in the Indian squad - Ashok Dinda, R Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav - were all making their ODI debuts.
India: Suresh Raina (captain), Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Yusuf Pathan [ Images ], Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Vinay Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (Captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Greg Lamb, Craig Ervine, Charles Coventry, Prosper Utseya , Andy Blignaut, Graeme Cremer, Ray Price, Chrisopher Mpofu