India gave Zimbabwe a reality check to win the first one-day international by 10 wickets on Thursday as seam bowler Deepak Chahar returned from a long injury layoff with a fine performance.
Chahar took 3-27 after six months out to help bowl Zimbabwe out for 189 in 40.3 overs at Harare Sports Club.
India openers Shubman Gill (82 not out) and Shikhar Dhawan (81 not out) powered India to 192-0 with nearly 20 overs to spare.
Prasidh Krishna and spinner Axa Patel also took three wickets each for India.
But it was the 30-year-old Chahar’s return to action that caught the eye.
“Every time you come back it’s always important to score runs and take wickets if you can,” Chahar said. “I’m so glad that I made a good contribution today.”
Zimbabwe was 66-5 as Chahar claimed three of the first four wickets to fall. Some fight from the tail helped the home team to 189 all out, with Brad Evans (33 not out) and Richard Ngarava (34) putting on 70 runs for the ninth wicket, a record for Zimbabwe against India.
Dhawan and Gill both cracked half-centuries as a polished India side chased down its target with ease.
Dhawan became the 10th India batter to score more than 6,500 ODI runs.
The 36-year-old left-hander faced 113 balls and smashed nine fours, running well between the wickets and rotating the strike brilliantly.
“Obviously Shikhar and Gill at the crease, we are talking of world-class batters here,” said Zimbabwe bowler Richard Ngarava. “You have to be spot on, and they really batted well today. You need to be on top of your game to get them out.”
Zimbabwe had recently qualified for this year’s Twenty20 World Cup and won T20 and ODI series against Bangladesh but its revival was halted by India.
The second game of the three-match ODI series is on Saturday.