Harare - A superb spell of bowling on debut from young left-arm spinner Axar Patel helped India cruise to a 54-run victory over Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 international at the Harare Sports Club on Friday.
The 21-year-old took 3-17 from his four overs, including the key wicket of home skipper Elton Chigumbura.
India won the toss and elected to bat, posting 178 for five from their 20 overs.
The top three of Ajinkya Rahane (33), Murali Vijay (34) and top-scorer Robin Uthappa (39 not out) ensured a fast start at a run-a-ball, though the tourists were later pegged back by Zimbabwe seamer Chris Mpofu, who finished with figures of three for 33.
Zimbabwe lost their first wicket in the eighth over of their reply, but were always behind the run-rate as they battled to get the ball to the boundary on the slow wicket.
Opener Hamilton Masakadza top-scored with 28 from 24 balls, before he became the first wicket for Patel.
When the left-armer got rid of Chigumbura later in the same over, the Zimbabwe innings faltered further and they ended up finishing on 124 for seven from their 20 overs, well short of their target.
Harbhajan Singh, back in the India Twenty20 side for the first time in almost three years, also excelled with the ball as he took two for 29 from his four overs.
The final match of the series will be played at the same venue on Sunday.