India clinch series from Zimbabwe
A solid batting effort complemented a fine performance by the bowlers as India sealed an eight-wicket win in just 26.5 overs in the second One-Day International against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club on Monday (June 13). The result meant India had sealed the series 2-0 with one game to go.
In a team effort, Yuzvendra Chahal’s 3 for 25 in six overs stood out and the leg-spinner bagged the Man of the Match award in only his second ODI.
When India was in the fifth over of its chase of the small 127-run target, Tendai Chatara had Karun Nair caught behind, but it turned out to be a no-ball. It was just the breathing space that Nair, playing his second ODI, needed on the biggest platform of his career so far. He kept his shape right to hit the following free-hit for a boundary to the straight fence and didn’t look back after that.
Nair’s 39, and his 67-run partnership with Ambati Rayudu (41 not out), front-ended India’s chase, which had begun strongly through the opening-wicket partnership of 58 runs between KL Rahul and Nair, who wiped off 48 runs in 13 overs before lunch was taken.
Perhaps a lapse in concentration led to Rahul (33) playing on in the second over after the break. He was dismissed for the first time in the series, having made an unbeaten 100 in the nine-wicket win in the first game.
Nair though, was in no mood to let go of this chance to pick up some easy runs. Strike rotation was the highlight of his innings. Apart from a stretch of 11 balls, including a maiden over, soon after being let off, Nair was never stuck in his crease. Rayudu’s fluency only helped Nair’s cause as they went about their business without much ado.
Rayudu was the more the dominant one in the association, as he outscored Nair quite easily. Rayudu opened his account with two consecutive fours on the off side, and then hit back-to-back fours once again, this time off Elton Chigumbura, to start the 22ndover. It allowed him to continue his authority over the Zimbabwe attack, which stretches back to last year when he had made a brilliant century from a difficult position at the same venue.
Nair missed the line of a Sikander Raza delivery while sweeping in the 27th over and was leg before wicket, but only two runs were needed for win then. Manish Pandey completed the formalities with a boundary to the cover fence off the very next delivery.
Earlier, India elected to bowl for the second time in two games.
Sean Williams replaced Craig Ervine in the Zimbabwean team for this game but injured his finger after the toss and was ruled out of the contest. It was the least of the worries for the home team, as the top order failed to learn from their mistakes from the first game and Zimbabwe was shot out for 126 in 34.3 overs. Barring Vusi Sibanda, who threw away his wicket after making a neat 53, no one else showed intent.
Hamilton Masakadza played a loose shot off an over-pitched delivery from Barinder Sran to be caught by Jasprit Bumrah at third-man in the fifth over. Sran, who swung the ball sharply, struck again in his next over when Peter Moor was trapped in front by an inswinger. A similar delivery from Dhawal Kulkarni consumed Chamu Chibhabha as Zimbabwe was reduced to 39 for 3 in 10 overs.
That is when Sibanda and Raza came together to resurrect the innings with a 67-run partnership. The two, however, were cramped for space as run-making became difficult.
Bumrah’s inswingers, like always, were hard to get away, and the slowness of the spinners was equally difficult to negate.
It was a matter of time before something gave, and it came in the form of Raza’s wicket. Eager to force the pace of the innings, Raza played a cross-batted shot off Chahal only to be caught by Kedar Jadhav in the deep.
Chahal struck again off his next delivery as a straight ball trapped Chigumbura in front of the wickets. The leg-spinner did not get a hat-trick, but was rewarded with Sibanda’s wicket in his next over.
Sibanda, like Raza, was guilty of playing an ill-advised heave. Beaten by the turn, he got the elevation of his shot wrong and Jadhav completed another easy catch in the outfield.
While Raza had found it difficult to rotate the strike, Sibanda offered some hope for the home team. In the first game, he had been guilty of consuming too many balls, but here he showed intent with better footwork and went after the spinners straightaway, hitting Chahal for a six. But his miscalculation eventually undid his good work and left Zimbabwe in tatters yet again.
With Zimbabwe 107 for 6, MS Dhoni sensed an opportunity to close out the innings and brought back his seamers. The move paid off as Bumrah and Dhawal Kulkarni struck twice in three overs. Zimbabwe lost its last six wickets for 20 runs, and that effectively killed the contest.