Bulawayo:Rohit Sharma's maiden ODI century went in vain as a slipshod India slumped to an embarrassing six-wicket defeat against Zimbabwe in the first match of the cricket tri-series here on Friday.
Rohit's well-paced 114 and Ravindra Jadeja's unbeaten run-a-ball 61 had guided India to a decent 285 for five but the lack of sting and firepower in their bowling attack allowed Zimbabwe to romp home with 10 balls to spare.
Chasing the formidable target, Brendan Taylor (81) and Hasan Masakadza (46) gave Zimbabwe a rollicking start and down the order debutant Craig Ervine (67 not out) dazzled as the hosts cruised to 289 for four in 48.2 overs.
India play Sri Lanka in their next match on Sunday.
Zimbabwe's chase got off to a strong start with Taylor and Masakadza showing scant respect for their opponents and adding 88 runs in 13 overs.
Three Indians made their ODI debut today but neither Ashok Dinda, nor R Vinay Kumar or Umesh Yadav could make their presence felt as Taylor and Masakadza exposed the frailties of the Indian attack.
Taylor hit Vinay Kumar for two sixes and a four in the 10th over and the partnership was blooming with a 100-mark in sight when Amit Mishra's googly castled Masakadza.
Indian bowlers toiled for another 16 overs without any success before Jadeja trapped Graeme Lamb (27).
Taylor was looking good for a century but he fell to Vinay Kumar in the 35th over after a 103-ball knock that had four fours and two sixes in it.
Charles Coventry (32 off 25 balls) played like his wont, hitting Yusuf Pathan, Mishra and Vinay Kumar out of the ground before losing his stumps to the pacer.
Ervine, however, showed tremendous maturity in his debut match as he and skipper Elton Chigumbura (24 not out) completed the formality without any fuss.
Earlier electing to bat first, India were off to a smooth start with Murali Vijay (11) and Dinesh Karthik (22) forging a 56-run opening stand against the wayward Zimbabwean bowlers.
It was smooth sailing for the Indians till the ninth over when Vijay was run out which was a combination of Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor's brilliance and the opener's laziness.
Vijay was ambling towards the batting crease when Taylor collected a Prosper Utseya throw in front of the wicket and flicked it back-handed onto the stumps.
Next man in Virat Kohli's was a scoreless stay as the vice captain, without facing a ball, was beaten by an Elton Chigumbura direct-throw.
Another four runs on the board and Karthik too was back in the hut, falling to Utseya and leaving India in a spot of bother at 61 for three.
Rohit stitched together a 67-run stand with skipper Suresh Raina (37) to steady the ship but it was his 132-run partnership with Jadeja (61 not out) for the fifth wicket that turned out to be the cornerstone of the Indian innings.
Rohit's 119-ball knock was studded with six fours and four sixes, while Jadeja's run-a-ball innings had five fours in it.
Even when Rohit and Raina forged a steady partnership that took India past the 100-run mark, Zimbabwe's slow-ball attack ensured boundaries were not easy to come by.
Paceman Chris Mpofu broke the partnership by removing Raina in the 30th over as the India captain rushed down the track only to guide a rising delivery to the wicketkeeper.
Rohit, however, continued the good work in Jadeja's company as the duo stepped on gas, asserting themselves on the hosts.
Rohit's century came in the 47th over when he hit Ray Price out of the ground for a massive six.
In the next over, Mpofu removed Rohit but Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan (11 off 5 balls) provided the late charge to take the score to 285.
For the hosts, Mpofu scalped two wickets for 63 while Utseya bagged one.