Harare, Zimbabwe,July 25: Stand-in skipper Virat Kohli played a captain's innings and Ambati Rayudu made a half-century on debut as India cruised to a six-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the first one-day international on Wednesday.
Kohli hit 115 off 108 balls in the dominant performance of the game as India went to 230-4 and overtook Zimbabwe's modest 228-7 with over five overs remaining. Kohli was replacing regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was rested for the five-game limited-overs series.
Kohli and Rayudu (63) combined for a 159-run partnership for the third wicket to convincingly take the game away from Zimbabwe, which had been held to 228-7 after India won the toss and bowled.
Kohli flashed 13 fours and a six in his century, dominating the bowlers almost from the start. Rayudu hit four boundaries in his more patient 63 from 84 balls, which still saw him seize his chance to impress with India looking to try out some new players following a busy recent schedule for the top-ranked one-day team.
Legspinner Amit Mishra took 3-43 on a turning pitch at Harare Sports Club to lead India's bowling effort. The 50-over world champion and recent Champions Trophy winner was in control throughout with a disciplined bowling performance followed up by a calm chase anchored by form batsman Kohli.
Only offspinner Prosper Utseya had any major return for Zimbabwe's bowlers with his 2-34 off 10 overs, including the wickets of Kohli and Suresh Raina, who was out for a duck.
But by then, Kohli had taken India to within 12 runs of Zimbabwe's score and debutant Rayudu eventually saw the tourists home and to a winning start on tour with a flashing four through extra cover.
Pakistan-born batsman Sikandar Raza top-scored for Zimbabwe with 82 for his first ODI half-century and Elton Chigumbura made a quick-fire 43 not out from No. 7, but the home batsmen never got away from India's bowlers.
Mishra dismissed Vusi Sibanda for 34 to break a 72-run opening stand with Raza and had Hamilton Masakadza bowled to a superb googly in some key early blows. He also eventually got Raza out, while seamers Vinay Kumar, Mohammed Shami, debutant Ambati Unadkat and spinner Raina all had one wicket each to back up Mishra's clever slow bowling.