The Indian team led by captain MS Dhoni in the Zimbabwe series is basically an India A side as all the senior players such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina have been rested by the BCCI.
The squad that flew to Zimbabwe was basically made up of batsmen and bowlers who did well in the 2016 IPL and a few who performed well in the domestic Ranji trophy. India went into the first ODI deciding to debut three new faces in KL Rahul, B Sran and Y Chahal and all three of them performed well but it was KL Rahul who stole the show and the man of the match award with a century on debut.
India won the toss and put Zimbabwe into bat and the bowlers struck at regular intervals to restrict Zimbabwe to just 168. J Bumrah was the pick of the bowlers sending down 9.5 overs and picking up four wickets. All the bowlers managed to pick up wickets and the spinners A Patel and Y Chahal sent down their 20 overs between themselves for just 53 runs and picked up 2 wickets.
M Pandey was expected to open the bowling with KL Rahul but Dhoni decided to send in KK Nair instead. Nair fell for just 7 and then Rahul and Rayudu put together an unbeaten partnership of 162 to take India to victory. Rahul was on 98 with just 2 runs to get when he decided to hit a six and take India to victory while ensuring he made a century on debut.
In a statement, Rahul said “I just kept it simple, the target was not too big so I just knocked the ball around and ran hard, and once the opportunity was there to hit boundaries, I hit boundaries. I enjoyed myself, enjoyed my innings and definitely a great relief for me to get a one-day hundred, firstly, but also to get it in your first ODI is very special for me”
Rahul who made his test debut against Australia has been considered by many as a test specialist due to his good technique but during the recent IPL he showed that he has both the shows and the power to play the shorter formats of the game. If he continues to pile up runs during the Zimbabwe tour, he could make a strong case of replacing S Dhawan in the ODI squad.