Harare: Ambati Rayudu struck a career-best unbeaten 124, only his second international century, to help India recover from a top-order collapse and post a competitive 255 for six against Zimbabwe in the first ODI of the three-match series, here today.
Rayudu, whose previous best score was 121, batted with poise and displayed tremendous maturity to steer India to the 250-plus score in the able company of Stuart Binny, who made a career-best 77 off 79 balls.
Rayudu and Binny joined hands when India were in a spot of bother at 87 for five, but the duo showed matured heads to resurrect the innings with a 160-run sixth wicket partnership.
While Rayudu decorated his 133-ball knock with 12 fours and a solitary hit over the fence, Binny struck six boundaries and two sixes during his knock.
Apart from the duo, captain Ajinkya Rahane (34) was the only other Indian batsmen to register a double digit score.
Chamu Chibhabha (2/25) and Donald Tripano (2/48) picked up two wickets apiece for the hosts.
India did not have the best of starts after being asked to bat at the Harare Sports Club ground.
Opener Murali Vijay (1) perished early, edging a good length delivery to Vusi Sibanda at second slip off left-arm pacer Brian Vittori in the fourth over.
With the ball doing enough to trouble the batsmen, India found it difficult to score at a quick rate and Vijay's dismissal did not help the visitors either.
Rahane, who opened the batting alongside Vijay, and Rayudu somewhat steadied the innings with a 51-run second wicket stand before India witnessed a batting collapse, which saw as many as four wickets fell in a span of seven overs.
During his 49-ball knock, Rahane struck five delightful boundaries before Tripano extracted some extra bounce and got a thick edge from the batsman which was pounced by Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza at slip.
Back into the senior side after a long hiatus, Manoj Tiwary (2) and Robin Uthappa failed to capitalise on their chances while Kedar Jadhav (5) had a forgettable debut as India lost three more quick wickets to slump to 87 for five by the 25th over.
While Tiwary was dismissed LBW by Chibhabha, Uthappa failed to open his account after he was caught short of the crease by Sikandar Raza's direct hit at the non-striker's end in the next over.
Debutant Jadhav soon became Chibhabha's second scalp when he edged a back of a length delivery to wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami.