Harare: India rode on young seamer Barinder Sran's memorable debut performance to notch up a crushing 10-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the second Twenty20 International and level the three-match series 1-1 here on Monday.
Asked to bowl after the coin landed in favour of Zimbabwe skipper Graeme Cremer, a determined India restricted the hosts to 99 for nine in the stipulated 20 overs with Sran returning the best figures by an Indian debutant in T20 format, to lay the foundation at the Harare Sports Club.
Mandeep Singh (52) and KL Rahul (47) then led the way with unbeaten knocks as the visitors chased down the target with 41 balls to spare.
This was India's first 10-wicket win in this format.
Sran (4 for 10) was ably assisted by Jasprit Bumrah, who picked up three wickets for 11 runs in his quota of four overs.
Sran finished with excellent figures in his quota of four overs, which is the second best globally.
Before Sran, Pragyan Ojha (4/21) against Bangladesh in 2009 World T20, held the Indian record.
The duo of Sran and Bumrah picked up seven wickets between them while giving away just 21 runs in eight economical overs.
Owing to the pace duo's efforts, India staged a strong fightback after a shocking two-run loss in the opening T20 International of the three-match series at the same venue.
Bangladesh's Elias Sunny (5/13) holds the record for the best bowling figures by a debutant in T20 Internationals.
Chasing a meagre total, India were off to a flying start with openers Rahul and Mandeep hardly facing any trouble against a mediocre Zimbabwean bowling attack.
While Mandeep smashed six fours and a six, Rahul found the fence two times and also cleared it twice, as India made short work of the chase.
Zimbabwe struggled not just with the bat and ball, but in the field too as Mandeep was dropped on 23.
As Mandeep pulled Chamu Chibhabha's short delivery straight to the deep square leg fielder, the ball bounced off his hands and landed on the other side of the rope for a six.
Dhoni was pleased with the way his bowlers performed on Monday.
Led by paceman Barinder Sran, who returned best bowling figures for India on T20 debut with a four-wicket haul, the visitors restricted to Zimbabwe 99 for nine and overhauled the target with consummate ease.
"It is a big victory. The bowlers started it all, important to start well and they bowled at right length. I was a bit worried that it was the third match on the same wicket and we would have also batted if we had won the toss," said Dhoni at the post-match presentation ceremony. The Indian captain said that the good show by the bowlers was well complimented by the fielders.
"Bowling was backed by some good fielding, I emphasised that we hard to run harder than we did in the last game. In the shorter format, it is very important," he said.
Sran was adjudged the Man of the Match for his four for 10 from four overs.
"It was fun, the ball swung. There was no pressure, the debut came late. I was not concentrating on pace but on swinging the ball since the pitch was suitable for that kind of bowling," he said.
Home skipper Graeme Cremer said after scoring just 99 Zimbabwe were out of the game.
"We started slowly and lost wickets at crucial times. It is disappointing after making a good start to the series. The pitch misbehaved a bit but getting bowled out for 99, just not good enough. Final on Wednesday, we still excited, we still believe we can win the series," he said.