Captain Virat Kohli led from the front with a superb century as India cruised to a six-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first one-day international here yesterday.
Chasing a victory target of 229, Kohli scored 115 and shared in a 153-run third-wicket partnership with debutant Ambati Rayudu (63 not out) as the World Cup and Champions Trophy winners claimed victory with more than five overs to spare.
Kohli, who fell with just 13 runs required looking to hit Prosper Utseya over the top, will have been especially pleased with his 15th ODI century having earlier given Zimbabwe’s top scorer Sikandar Raza a life which allowed the opener to add an extra 54 runs to his total.
Kohli yesterday became the youngest batsman to score 15 ODI hundreds. He achieved this feat in 24 years and 261 days. He is also the quickest to score 15 centuries from 106 innings. Kohli broke the record of Sachin Tendulkar who had 15 ODI hundreds at the age of 25 in 182 innings.
Earlier, Raza was on 28 when Kohli dropped him at slip off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja and the 27-year-old made the most of the let-off as he scored 82 for his maiden international half-century.
Raza was eventually snared by leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who was the pick of the India attack with figures of three for 43.
At one stage it looked as though Zimbabwe were on course for a bigger total after reaching 105 for one from 31 overs on the back of a
72-run opening partnership between Vusi Sibanda (34) and Raza.
However, India made steady inroads into the Zimbabwe batting to limit their momentum and in the end the hosts were grateful to Elton Chigumbura for getting them up to 228 for seven, the experienced all-rounder striking six fours and a six in his rapid 43 not out.
That target proved no problem for India though with Kohli and Rayudu guiding them most of the way home following the departures of openers Shikhar Dhawan (17) and Rohit Sharma (20).
Zimbabwe: 228-7 in 50 overs (Sikandar Raza 82, Amit Mishra 3-43) lost to India: 230-4 in 44.5 overs (Virat Kohli 115, Ambati Rayudu 63*) by six wickets
> Virat Kohli: 24 years and 261 days, 106 innings
> Sachin Tendulkar: 25 years, 182 innings
> Chris Gayle: 27 years and 42 days, 182 innings
The number of centuries scored and number of man-of-the-match awards bagged by Indian captain Virat Kohli during the course of his career of 109 matches. His superb knock at Harare took his aggregate to 4,493 at an average of 49.37.
The number of Indians who have scored more than 50 runs in their debut match. Ambati Rayadu became the latest player to do so with his unbeaten 63 yesterday. He joined the club of Ajit Wadekar, Brijesh Patel, Sandeep Patil, Raman Lamba, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Praveen Amre, Saba Karim, Amay Khurasiya, Robin Uthappa and Ravindra Jadeja.
The number of runs scored by Zimbabwe opener Sikandar Raza yesterday. It is his highest score in his short career of four ODIs. With every innings he has improved his score: 3, 23, 37 - all against Bangladesh in May this year and now 82 for an average of 36.25.
The number of innings in which Elton Chigumbura has remained unbeaten against India. His scoring sequence reads: 24 off 16 balls at Bulawayo, 16 off 15 deliveries at Harare - both in 2010, and yesterday 43 off 34 balls at a magnificent strike rate of 127.69.