A listless India received their second mauling in a week at the hands of hosts Zimbabwe, who crushed them by seven wickets in the ongoing cricket tri-series here on Thursday.
In a shock repeat of the tournament opener, India dished out yet another pathetic display in all three departments of the game to suffer a crushing defeat with 11.4 overs to spare that seriously jeopardised their chances of reaching the June 9 final.
Put into bat, India’s famed line-up came out with a shoddy display to crawl to a below-par 194 for nine in 50 overs. Things, in fact, could have been worse but for Ravindra Jadeja’s gritty 72-ball 51 down the order.
India needed to bowl out of their skin to defend the paltry total but Zimbabwe cashed in on a steady start and cruised to 197 for three in 38.2 overs to humble their opponents. This was also India’s first back-to-back defeat against the minnows.
For Zimbabwe, Brendan Taylor (74) and Hamilton Masakadza (66) scored bulk of the runs with their 128-run opening partnership in 26.3 overs as the hosts bagged five points, including a bonus, from the match.
They now have nine points from three matches that brightened their chance for a place in the final.
India now must beat Sri Lanka on Saturday and then wait for the outcome of the islanders’ match against Zimbabwe on Monday for a place in the final.
Needing less than five runs an over, Zimababwe made a slow but steady start with Masakzada and Taylor shunning risk in the first half hour before stepping up the tempo once they settled down.
Taylor, who played some exquisite shots including a six off Umesh Yadav, reached his fifty in the 17th over off 59 balls with a single off Jadeja.
India could break the Zimbabwean opening stand in only the 27th over with Ojha removing Taylor who holed out to long-off fielder Murali Vijay but not before taking the home side to the threshold of victory.
After Taylor was out, Masakzada took upon himself the responsibility of maintaining the momemtum. Once he reached to his fifty, Masakzada hoisted Amit Mishra for two successive sixes in the 30th over to raise the 150 of Zimbabwe innings.
Masakadza was out in the 32nd over of the bowling of Jadeja with Virat Kohli taking a stunning catch.
Jadeja (2/27) got his second wicket in the form of Charles Coventry (20) before captain Elton Chigumbura (16 not out) and Tatenda Taidu (13 not out) took Zimbabwe home comfortably.
Earlier, Jadeja’s 51 was the only face-saving performance in an otherwise spineless batting display as India managed a meagre 194 for nine.
India failed to recover from a slow start and lost wickets at regular intervals to end their innings below 200-run mark.
Jadeja scored his second half century of the tournament to prop up the innings after a disciplined Zimbabwean attack reduced India to 127 for seven in the 37th over.
The left-hander stitched a crucial 48-run eighth wicket stand with Ashok Dinda (16) and hit three fours and two sixes during his 72-ball knock.
Off-spinner Greg Lamb was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with figures of three for 45 from his 10 overs, while Raymond Price, captain Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer and Andrew Blignaut chipped in with a wicket apiece.
The visiting openers Dinesh Karthik (33 off 47) and Murali Vijay (21 off 56) found the going tough and India could reach their fifty in the 15th over.
Finding it difficult to score runs with conventional shots against the Zimbabwean spinners, Karthik went for a reverse sweep off Lamb only to top-edge a dolly to wicket-keeper Tatenda Taibu.
Vijay’s struggle also came to an end an over later with Lamb outwitting the right-hander with a drifter, which found the edge of his bat and went straight onto Taibu’s safe hands.
Back-to-back centurion Rohit Sharma (13) and skipper Suresh Raina (3) fell prey to Zimbabweans’ sharp fielding while Virat Kohli (18) fell to a soft dismissal and Yusuf Pathan (15) was caught plumb in front of the wicket by Price.
Jadeja and Dinda, however, batted sensibly and gave some respectability to the Indian innings with a 48-run partnership.
The duo played cautiously and mixed one and twos with occasional boundaries to give the Indian bowlers something to bowl at.