Abhishek’s whirlwind century, Gaikwad’s 77 not out carry India to massive 234/4

Harare, July 7 (IANS) Abhishek Sharma overcame a sluggish start to slam a 47-ball hundred – his first century in international cricket, while Ruturaj Gaikwad smashed 77 not out and Rinku Singh hit an unbeaten 48 as the trio propelled India to a massive 234/2 in the second T20I against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
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Abhishek’s whirlwind century, Gaikwad’s 77 not out carry India to massive 234/4

Harare, July 7 (IANS) Abhishek Sharma overcame a sluggish start to slam a 47-ball hundred – his first century in international cricket, while Ruturaj Gaikwad smashed 77 not out and Rinku Singh hit an unbeaten 48 as the trio propelled India to a massive 234/2 in the second T20I against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

Less than 24 hours after being bowled out for 102 in a 13-run defeat in the T20I series opener on Saturday, India made a stunning batting turnaround on a tough pitch, thanks to the efforts of Abhishek, Gaikwad and Rinku.

Abhishek’s first 50 runs came in 33 balls, before amassing his next 50 runs in just 13 balls to smash a whirlwind century, laced with seven fours and eight sixes. He showed patience at the start, before attacking the bowlers – especially Dion Myers and Wellington Masakadza - after power-play to play a memorable knock.

After he fell, Gaikwad seamlessly shifted gears in his knock laced with 11 fours and a six, while Rinku smashed two fours and seven sixes as India amassed 82 runs off the last five overs, with Zimbabwe’s fielding and bowling display looking ordinary.

Electing to bat first, India lost captain Shubman Gill early when he whipped straight to mid-on off Blessing Muzarabani. Abhishek, who opened his account with a pulled six off Brian Bennett in the opening over, thumped the spinner through cover for consecutive boundaries.

In between, Zimbabwe’s bowlers were right on the money to keep Abhishek and Ruturaj Gaikwad in check with seam movement and tight lines. Abhishek wasn’t getting desired timing and was dropped on 27 by Wellington Masakadza off Luke Jongwe.

From there, Abhishek shifted gears by pulling and lofting Sikandar Raza for four and six respectively. After Gaikwad took two boundaries off Jongwe, Abhishek nailed his pulls thrice – one of which got him his fifty in 33 balls – off Dion Myers.

He then thumped and swiped Myers for six and four respectively to take 28 runs off the 11th over. Raza was back in Abhishek’s firing line as he launched him for six and four more, before overturning a caught-behind decision on review.

The carnage continued as Abhishek smoked Masakadza for three sixes – last of which was flicked over fine leg – to get his first T20I century for India. But his blitz came to an end immediately when he threw his hands at an outside off-stump ball and outside edge was caught by backward point.

After that, with Rinku hitting boundaries from the word go, Gaikwad also found boundaries to get his fifty. Gaikwad then teared into Chatara – tonking twice in the ‘V’ for two boundaries, before hitting two fours through the off-side to take 20 runs off the 18th over.

Rinku then slammed Muzarabani for two sixes in the 19th over, before hitting a four and a brace of maximums off Jongwe in the final over, with Gaikwad taking a boundary, to help India cross 230-mark.

Brief Scores: India 234/2 (Abhishek Sharma 100, Ruturaj Gaikwad 77 not out; Wellington Masakadza 1-29, Blessing Muzarabani 1-30) against Zimbabwe

--IANS

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