India's Captain Rohit Sharma (centre) gives instructions to Axar Patel (left) as he prepares to bowl during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2022 cricket match between India and Zimbabwe at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Image Credit: AFP

India defeated Zimbabwe by 71 runs to top the Group 2 table and booked a meeting with England in the second semi-finals in Adelaide on Thursday. Here's how it happened.

Match summary: India top Group 2 with clinical win over Zimbabwe

India were too good for the Zimbabweans. The Africans were never in the chase of a big target of 187. The pacers kept the Zimbabwe batters guessing and did not have any clue which way the ball would be moving. After 59/5 at the halfway stage, the in-form Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl put on a 60-run partnership for the sixth wicket, scoring off the spinners.

However, Ravichandran Ashwin came back strongly to finish with a three-wicket haul and Axar Patel got the final wicket to dismiss Zimbabwe to 115 in 17.2 overs. Raza once again stood out with a fighting knock of 34 before Hardik Pandya dismissed him in the 17th over. 

Zimbabwe batters treating spinners with disdain

Raza and Burl have feasted on the spinners, whose form is a cause for worry for India. So far, both Ashwin and Axar Patel have not done anything of note. The off-spinner though got the wicket of Burl, and Mazakadza, Raza is treating the spinners with disdain. They have given away 56 runs in six overs. After 15.1 overs, Zimbabwe are 104/7, Raza batting on 30 and Burl out for 35 off 22.

It’s as good as over for Zimbabwe

It’s as good as over for Zimbabwe. Five down for 59 at halfway mark, Zimbabwe batters Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl are just playing for pride to reduce the margin of defeat. Zimbabwe now require close to 13 runs an over. Both Shami and Hardik Pandya also got into the wickets column, Shami getting two.

Indian seamers are keeping Zimbabwe batters guessing

Zimbabwe batters are all at sea against some quality seam and swing bowling by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arhsdeep Singh and Mohammed Shami.

India's Arshdeep Singh bowls during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2022 cricket match between India and Zimbabwe at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

They have posed so many questions to the Zimbabwe batters with probing line and length and keeping the batters guessing.

Already, Zimbabwe are three down, including their experienced batter Sean Williams. It is up to skipper Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza to rescue them from the difficult situation, where runs are hard to come by. Only two fours and a top-edged six have come in the first six overs as the swing and miss continues with the asking rate climbing to 11.4. After six overs, Zimbabwe are 28/3.

Mid-match summary: SKY turns the match around

Suryakumar Yadav is proving why he is such a dangerous player, playing 360 degrees. He is scooping the ball behind the wicketkeeper and follows it up with a brilliant straight drive. It’s is difficult to contain him, which the Zimbabwe bowlers realized the hard way. The inexperience of the Zimbweans, playing in this gigantic Melbourne Cricket Stadium for the first time since 2004, let go a strong grip slip by, thanks to some wonderful counter-offensive by Suryakumar in the company of Hardik Pandya, who departed after a run a ball 18.

SKY reached his 12th half-century in just 23 balls and remained unbeaten 61 to give India 107 runs in the final 10 overs, after India lost three quick wickets in 14 balls to be in a spot of bother. Suryakumar, who added 65 runs with Pandya in 35 balls for the fifth wicket, had six fours and four sixes in his knock.

India's Suryakumar Yadav hits a four during the T20 World Cup cricket match against Zimbabwe in Melbourne, Australia. Image Credit: AP

Dazzling display by Suryakumar Yadav

Suryakumar Yadav’s unbeaten 61 off 25 balls takes India to 186/5 in 20 overs, giving Zimbabwe a stiff target to chase. His knock literally has dashed Zimbabwe’s ambitions of containing India to a low score.

Zimbabwe halt India’s march with three quick wickets

Two wickets in quick succession of the set Rahul and Kohli in the space of four deliveries should be hurting India’s progress towards a big total. Eight balls later, Rishabh Pant, who is playing his first match in this tour, failed to take advantage of the opportunity after being dismissed by a stunning catch at the midwicket boundary. But the advantage is Suryakumar Yadav is still around and should launch into attack mode soon with Hardik Pandya. Rahul in the process completed his 22nd half-century in Twenty20 internationals. His wicket completed a unique double for Sikandar Raza, the Zimbwbwean all-rounder getting 25 wickets and 500 runs this year. After 15 overs, India are 107/4.

India 79/1 at halfway stage

Rahul and Kohli are consolidating the Indian innings and shifting gears to go at a much faster clip in the final 10 overs. Rahul is on 41 and Kohli 22 as India are 79/1. Indian batters are in total command and in no pressure whatsoever after booking their place in the semif-finals.

Kohli and Rahul keep the scoreboard ticking

Rohit Sharma has departed at a time when he started finding his touch. The Indian skipper must be upset with himself for missing the opportunity ahead of the semi-finals. One aspect this opening pair need to work on, certainly in the crucial knockout is the running between the wickets.

Zimbabwe's Blessing Muzarabani (left) celebrates his wicket of India's captain Rohit Sharma. Image Credit: AFP

Though Rahul and Rohit can get boundaries off the good deliveries, it is important not give dot balls, which could come back to bite Team India at a later stage. Kohli is as comfortable as he could be, in great touch. After six overs, India are 46/1, Rahul on 20 (17), Kohli 10 (6).

Slow start for India

After getting the measure of the pitch, Indian openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul have started playing through the line to lift the ball over the infield.

India's KL Rahul bats during the T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Zimbabwe in Melbourne, Australia. Image Credit: AP

But the Zimbabwe pacers are not giving anything away easily and keeping them on the backfoot with just short of good length. After three overs, India are 18/0.

Indian fans cheer as India's Virat Kohli prepares to bat during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2022 cricket match between India and Zimbabwe at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Image Credit: AFP

India win toss, choose to bat

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bat on a surface that has good amount of green tinge, in front of a packed house at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. India have made one change, bringing in Rishabh Pant in place of Dinesh Karthik. “All other players have played a game at least and Pant is the only one who has not got a game this tour. We wanted to give him the opportunity before the semi-finals,” Rohit said at the toss. Zimbabwe brought in Wellington Masakadza and Tony Munyonga in place of Milton Shumba and Luke Jongwe.

Indian fan
An Indian fan cheers before the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 cricket match between India and Zimbabwe at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia, on November 6, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma (captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh.

Zimbabwe: Wessly Madhevere, Craig Ervine (capt), Regis Chakabva (wk), Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Tony Munyonga, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Wellington Masakadza, Blessing Muzarabani.

T20 World Cup Trophy
T20 World Cup Trophy Image Credit: Twitter

Preview: India face tricky Zimbabwe

With India having qualified for the semifinals, the only interest in India’s game against Zimbabwe in Group 2 is whether Rohit Sharma top the group. Pakistan occupy the top slot with six points and a superior run rate. A win should lift India over Pakistan with eight points. But Zimbabwe are tricky customers, as Pakistan would attest