Harare, July 24: Virat Kohli hit his 15th One Day International century and second as captain to power India to a convincing 6-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the first match of the series here on Wednesday. India took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Kohli (115, 108 balls, 13x4, 1x6) and debutant Ambati Rayudu shared a 159-run partnership for the third wicket to take the team to a win. The 24-year-old Kohli has now drawn level with Virender Sehwag in highest century-makers list for India. They are joint third behind Sachin Tendulkar (49) and Sourav Ganguly 22). Kohli's 15 hundreds have come in 109 matches (106 innings) while Sehwag has played 251 ODIs so far.
On way to his hundred today, Kohli became the youngest to score 15 tons in ODIs. He achieved the feat in 24 years and 261 days. Tendulkar was 25 when he reached the landmark. Kohli is also the quickest to the 15-hundred club from 106 innings.
Rayudu, on debut, was also impressive in the company of his captain. The right-hander scored a half century and stayed till the end. He hit the winning runs, a boundary and remained not out on 63 (84 balls, 4x4).
With just 13 runs needed to win, Kohli and Suresh Raina (0) fell in the space of three balls in the 42nd over. But those wickets came very late for the hosts. India chased down 229 in 44.5 overs.
India openers Shikhar Dhawan (17) and Rohit Sharma (20) made a slow start but both failed to carry on to score big.
The second ODI of this five-match series is on Friday (July 26).
India restrict Zimbabwe to 228/7
Earlier, comeback man Amit Mishra took three wickets as India restricted Zimbabwe to 228/7 in 50 overs.
After winning the toss and bowling first, Indians maintained a strong hold in the initial overs. However, led by opener Sikandar Raza's 82 (112 balls, 6x4, 2x6), the hosts managed to go past 200.
Mishra was playing his first ODI since June 2011. The 30-year-old, who had a good season of IPL this year, took all three wickets on his own without the help of fielders. Two of his victims were bowled and the other was LBW.
To start with, Zimbabwe batsmen were very slow, taking 20 overs to reach 68/0. In the next 30, they hit 160 thanks to Raza and Elton Chigumbura's 34-ball 43 not out (6x4, 1x6).
R Vinay Kumar and Shami Ahmed bowled superbly in the beginning. Left-arm paceman Jaydev Unadkat took his maiden ODI wicket by dismissing captain Brendan Taylor. He finished with 1/39 in 10. Mishra had figures of 3/43 in 10 overs.
In the end overs, Vinay proved expensive and his final analysis was 1/57 in 9 overs. His first spell was very good - 5-1-12-0.
With a strong batting line-up, India should not have any difficulty in overhauling this target.
Captain Kohli opts to bowl
India captain Kohli won the toss and decided to bowl.
Right-hand batsman Rayudu made his ODI debut today. India also handed debut to left-arm fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat.
This is a young Indian side without regular captain MS Dhoni, who has been rested for this five-match series. Ishant Sharma, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav are also not in the squad.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Shami Ahmed, R Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Jaydev Unadkat.
Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (captain and wicketkeeper), Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.
Match starts at 12.30 PM IST