Harare : Experienced batsman-wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa played a responsible 35-ball 39-run knock to guide India to 178/5 against Zimbabwe in the first of the two Twenty20 Internationals at the Harare Sports Club here on Friday.

India got off the blocks strongly after winning the toss and taking first strike, openers Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay scoring at a fast clip.

Murali Vijay was the more aggressive of the two, hitting five boundaries and a six. But just when it seemed India would run away with the proceedings, Vijay (34 off 19 balls) was run out in the 7th over.

Vijay’s attempted quick singles brought out his downfall as he was undone by a smart direct throw from Sikandar Raja at mid-wicket.

His dismissal checked India’s run-making march, which was quickly dealt another blow when skipper Rahane (33 off 32 balls) departed 14 balls later. Rahane was deceived by a flighted leg-break from left-armer Graeme Cremer and scooped a leading edge to point, with the score at 82/2 in 9.2 overs.

Debutant Manish Pandey and seasoned Robin Uthappa were saddled with the task of resurrecting India’s innings.

They kept the scoreboard ticking, rotating the strike as well as hitting the odd big shot but overall, Zimbabwe managed to check the run-flow.

The Pandey-Uthappa duo took India to 123/2 in 15 overs and laid a platform for a late-innings assault.

But Pandey’s attempt to up the ante ended in his departure, in the second ball of the 16th over, after thrashing the previous ball to the boundary. He managed a run-a-ball 19.

The onus shifted to Uthappa, who responsibly stayed at the wicket till the end to guide the team to a decent score.

Right-arm medium-pacer Chris Mpofu was the most successful bowler for the home team, bagging three wickets for 33 runs in four overs.

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