Bowled to my strengths and was rewarded, says debutant Axar Patel

Harare: Awarded man-of-the-match on his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut against Zimbabwe on Friday, India's left-arm spinner Axar Patel on Friday said he bowled to his strengths and was rewarded with a three-wicket haul.

India beat Zimbabwe by 54 runs in their first T20I of a two-match series at the Harare Sports Club here. Set a target of 179, Zimbabwe could muster only 124/7, undone by the slow bowling pair of Axar Patel (3-17) and veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (2-29), who derailed the hosts after a promising start.

"I bowled to my strengths, cut the pace off the ball, so batsmen can’t hit me. So I was rewarded. I like the dukes ball that has more pronounced seam to grip," Axar said at the post match presentation ceremony.

Batsmen, spinners delivered for India: Rahane

India skipper Ajinkya Rahane on Friday credited his team's batsmen as well as spinners for putting up a dominant show to beat Zimbabwe by 54 runs in their first Twenty20 International at the Harare Sports Club here on Friday.

Set a target of 179, Zimbabwe only managed 124/7. Their batting charge was made unsuccessful by India's slow bowling pair of Axar Patel (3/17) and Harbhajan Singh (2/29).

Earlier with the bat, Murali Vijay (34 off 19 balls), Rahane (33 off 32 balls) and Robin Uthappa (39 off 35 balls) helped India post a commendable total.

"I think first of all we batted very well. Between 160 and 170 would be a good total and as I said at the toss, our spinners came handy," Rahane said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Rahane said his bowlers supported his batsmen superbly, not letting Zimbabwe score freely, on a pitch that got slower as the match progressed.

"It became a little slower later on, but still the bowlers did well. No initial movement so slightly easier to bat in the first innings. The way we batted in the middle overs, taking singles and twos, that was crucial on a big ground," the 27-year-old said.

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