India Crushes Zimbabwe by 100 Runs as Abhishek Sharma Stars with Century

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Abhishek Sharma was the highlight of the game with the left-handed opener scoring his maiden century, the third fastest century by an Indian in T20 internationals for the Men in Blue….reports Asian Lite News

India defeated Zimbabwe in the second T20I of the ongoing five-game series by a huge margin of hundred runs at the Harare Sports Club, here on Sunday.

Abhishek Sharma was the highlight of the game with the left-handed opener scoring his maiden century, the third fastest century by an Indian in T20 internationals for the Men in Blue.

Earlier, the visiting side did not get off to a great start with skipper Shubman Gill getting out in the second over of the game when he gave a catch straight to mid-on.

The rocky start saw Abhishek take his time reaching the fifty-run mark having taken 33 deliveries to get there. From thereon carnage followed as he scored his next fifty in just 13 balls which included three back to back sixes off Wellington Masakadza’s over which saw him reach hundred before being dismissed on the very next delivery.

Harare: India’s Abhishek Sharma celebrates his century during the T20 cricket match between India and Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club, in Harare, Sunday, July 07, 2024.(IANS/BCCI)

Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rinku Singh carried on the fire started by Sharma, the duo scored 87 runs in the final six overs and went on to propel India’s score to 234 runs at the end of 20 overs.

Innocent Kaia started the second innings with a boundary but received a great reply by Mukesh Kumar who bowled him out on the third ball of the game.

Brian Bennett started off well and scored 26 runs off just nine deliveries displaying the attacking intent by the Zimbabwe side but met with the same result as Kaia and was bowled out by Kumar who took his second of the day.

Harare: India’s Abhishek Sharma celebrates his century during the T20 cricket match between India and Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club, in Harare, Sunday, July 07, 2024.(IANS/BCCI)

Wickets at regular intervals and the ever-rising run rate made it extremely difficult for the Zimbabwe side to get any sort of rhythm in the game. They lost three wickets between the 72 and 76-run mark which sealed the game for the Indian side.

Opener Wesley Madhevere was the only bright spot for the team on the day as he scored 43 runs off 39 deliveries before being bowled by Ravi Bishnoi whose excellent bowling saw him being hit for only nine runs in four overs whilst picking two wickets.

Once Madhevere’s wicket fell it was only a matter of time before the Indian unit bundled out their opponents with Zimbabwe being bundled out at 134 runs in 18.4 overs.

The five-game series is now tied at 1-1 with the third game scheduled to be played on Wednesday at the Harare Sports Club.

Brief score:

India 234/2 (20.0) (Abhishek Sharma 100 off 47, Ruturaj Gaikwad 77 off 47; Blessing Muzarabani 30/1 in four overs)

Zimbabwe 134/10 (Wesley Madhevere 43 off 39, Brian Bennett 26 off 9; Avesh Khan 15/3 in three overs)

Abhishek Sharma Hits Fastest T20I Century for India

After smashing a brilliant maiden international hundred in the second T20I against Zimbabwe, Abhishek Sharma credited his father’s advice of playing a lofted shots for his big hitting show.

Playing just his second T20I, the 23-year-old all-rounder slammed a stunning 46-ball hundred on Sunday. The 46-ball ton is the joint-third fastest by an Indian batter in men’s T20Is. Rohit Sharma’s 35-ball century in 2017 and Suryakumar Yadav’s 45-ball ton in 2023, both against Sri Lanka, are the two fastest tons for India, while KL Rahul also had a 46-ball hundred against the West Indies in 2016.

“All this is due to the hard work I’ve done. Special thanks to my dad, who always encouraged me to play lofted shots, even when I was a kid. Usually coaches don’t allow you to play lofted shots much. My dad used to tell me that if you want to play a lofted shot, it should go out of the ground. For me, it’s always been there from my childhood that if I’m confident, I like to express myself,” said Abhishek, who hit eight sixes in his whirlwind knock, in a post match presser.

The youngster swiftly reached his half-century with a six and then capped it off by hitting three consecutive sixes in the 14th over to complete his century, making him the first Indian to achieve this feat in men’s international cricket. Shubman Gill has done something similar, but his back-to-back sixes took him to 200 in an ODI against New Zealand in 2023.

The young opener also revealed that he used his childhood friend and under-19 teammate Gill’s bat in the second T20I, something he has regularly done in the past as well.

Gill and Abhishek started playing together in the under-12 category. The duo also played together in the 2018 ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup, where India took home the title.

“The journey has been very beautiful. When we started playing, we were around 10–11 years old, and we have been playing since U12 together. The ultimate goal was to represent the country. I have said before that the first call I got (about selection) was from Shubman, and he was very happy.

“I played with his [Shubman’s] bat today, and it went really well. Special thanks to him for the bat. This happens from the U12 days, whenever I think it’s a pressure game or it’s a match I should perform, I take his bat. Even in the IPL, I ask for his bat. Even today, it went really well,” said Abhishek.

Abhishek further attributed the smooth transition of young players to the national team to the Indian Premier League experience that helped them to handle pressure.

“I think IPL plays a big role in this because, as a youngster, as a debutant, we didn’t feel much pressure when we came to represent the country. It’s always a great motivation once you are playing for the country. Unfortunately it didn’t go well in yesterday’s game, but my mindset and intent was same.

“I had a word with the other debutants too, we’ve all played cricket together a long time, since U14 days I’d say. I think it’s all about approach in T20, about intent. If I show intent and if it is my day, it usually goes like this,” said Abhishek.

Abhishek admitted the players were disappointed after losing the series opener, especially since the first-choice squad had won the T20 World Cup.

“Losing a game like that after the country has won a T20 World Cup was disappointing for the players. But still, we were all youngsters and have been playing together and against each other since childhood.

“So none of us went into our shells after losing, we were instead all together and thinking about the hard work we put in all those years and how this is the ultimate goal for all of us, so we should enjoy and focus on the next thing. Mindset was to forget what has happened and focus on the next match,” he concluded.

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