Sharma's splendid century steers India to a massive victory over Zimbabwe to level the series


India – 234-2 in 20 overs (Abhishek Sharma 100, Ruturaj Gaikwad 77*, Rinku Singh 48*; Avesh Khan 3-15, Mukesh Kumar 3-37, Ravi Bishnoi 2-11)

Zimbabwe – 134-10 in 18.4 overs (Wessly Madhevere 43, Luke Jongwe 33, Brian Bennett 26; Wellington Masakadza 1-29, Blessing Muzarabani 1-30)

India won by 100 runs

Image: Zimbabwe Cricket

HARARE – Putting their defeat yesterday behind them, India emerged victorious over Zimbabwe by a huge margin of 100 runs in the second T20I match played at Harare Sports Club on Sunday. The series is now levelled at 1-1. A sensational century from top-hitter Abhishek Sharma saw India make light work of Zimbabwe, who could not match the mammoth target set by the visitors. 

Winning the toss, India opted to bat first, in an innings that was marked by explosive hits. It was a much different showing from their batting performance yesterday, in which India were bowled out for 102. 

The splendiferous batting displayed by Abhishek Sharma (100 off 47) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (77 off 47) was a sight to behold, as India revelled in such top-notch batting quality. 

The two days in the series have provided breathtaking moments, although with contrasted fortunes for the two teams. India were not bogged down by the earlier loss of captain Shubman Gill's wicket today, who was dismissed for 2 runs only by Blessing Muzarabani's delivery, as he was caught out by Brian Bennett at mid-on. 

The tide then turned quickly turned as Abhishek Sharma launched a brutal assault on the Zimbabwean bowlers. 

He struck a six off the very first ball he faced, and despite a dropped catch on 27, he went on to decimate the Zimbabwean attack. With the last 73 runs of his innings coming from just 24 balls

Ruturaj Gaikwad, shaking off his earlier struggles, remained unbeaten on 77, while Rinku Singh contributed a quickfire 48 off 22 balls, as India amassed a formidable 234-2 in their 20 overs, setting a daunting target for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's chase faltered from the outset, losing four wickets within the powerplay, including the early dismissal of Innocent Kaia for 4. Brian Bennett did launch a brief counter-attack, smashing 26 runs from just 9 balls, but such brilliant sparks were insufficient to swing the game in Zimbabwe's favour.

Despite a valiant effort from Wessly Madhevere, who scored 43 off 39 balls, Zimbabwe ultimately fell short, bowled out for 134 with eight balls remaining. 

Ravi Bishnoi was particularly effective, keeping the Zimbabwean batsmen under pressure and picking up two wickets. Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan also claimed three wickets apiece.

Abhishek Sharma was named Player of the Match for his magnificent knock. 

Speaking to reporters after the match, he said that the Indian players did not have time to "lament" about yesterday's defeat.

"It was a good performance, after the defeat yesterday. We didn't have much time to lament. I felt that T20 is all about the momentum, thought it was my day today," Sharma said.  

"I feel like if it's your day, you express yourself. After the drop I thought it was my day and had to take responsibility. Ruturaj Gaikwad helped me in keeping perspective. I always believe in my (hitting) ability. It's about momentum for me. If it's in the arc, I believe I need to hit it over regardless of when it is."

Shubman Gill, India's captain expressed his elation for winning the match, attributing yesterday's loss to poor handling of pressure. 

"Very happy today. Great to be back on the winning note. It was not easy to bat in the powerplay, Abhishek and Ruturaj built the innings briliantly. Yesterday was more about us not being able to handle pressure," the skipper said. 

"Ours is a young side. Actually, it was good to have pressure in the first game and we knew what to expect today. Hopefully, the batters continue to fire in the games coming up. Always good to have more options than to have no options."

Zimbabwe's captain Sikandar Raza remarked, "the world champions will eventually play like world champions", conceding that the Chevrons' fielding was disappointing, as "dropping four chances hurt us". 

"Our top order not firing. Blessing Muzarabani has come leaps and bounce, he's very hungry. As long as he stays fit, he'll bowl well. We've talked about batting for a while, it's easier to fix when there is a pattern. We came out firing today, a lot of the issues came down to inexpereince," Zimbabwe's skipper said. 

Zimbabwe will seek to restore their lead in the third T20I match of the series on Wednesday, July 10th, at Harare Sports Club. 

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