Ind vs Zim 2016 , 3rd T20I – Preview
A dominant, record-breaking ten-wicket win over Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Monday allowed India to draw level in the T20 International series, leaving both teams with all to play for in the final match at the same venue on Wednesday (June 22).
On one side is a young Indian team, which has one final chance on this tour to give selectors something to think about in the months to come. On the other is a beleaguered Zimbabwe, keen to win over disgruntled fans and prove its recent shake-up wasn’t all for naught. On Wednesday, it will come down to who handles the pressure best.
Neville Madziva, handed the ball in the last over of the first T20I with eight runs needed, won the first round in the battle of wits with MS Dhoni, for a memorable two-run win. Then, India’s youngsters, who seemed to falter under pressure in that loss, soaked it up in the second match.
Barinder Sran ran through the top order for figures of 4 for 10 in a dream debut, while Jasprit Bumrah finished with 3 for 11 to keep the host to 99 for 9, before KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh completed a fuss-free chase. And with the bowlers finding the right spots on a tricky surface, the visitor appears to hold the mental edge going into the decider.
“Whatever mistakes we made (in the first T20I), we discussed them,” explained Mandeep. “We spoke about what we could do better – like take more singles while batting, bowl better lines while bowling. We spoke about all that and focussed on the process and felt that if we did that, we’d win comfortably.”
Zimbabwe too could benefit from a relaxed approach. Its batting has been patchy throughout. While Elton Chigumbura’s 26-ball 54 led a combined effort to set up its win in the opening game, India’s attack had it flustered in the second, as it gave away its wickets to ill-advised shots.
“Look at Hamilton (Masakadza, who was bowled), that’s not the way he should’ve got out,” said an angry Makhaya Ntini, the coach. “Look at (Sikandar) Raza. Come on! You see there’s a guy put there and you’re guiding the ball there. Where is the maturity?”
Already without the injured Sean Williams and Craig Ervine for this series, the host was without Richmond Mutumbami, the wicketkeeper-batsman, too on Monday. Peter Moor, his replacement, was the top scorer, showcasing a calm that several of his team-mates lacked. Zimbabwe is still waiting to hear if Mutumbami, nursing a hip injury, is cleared to play the decider.
“Shot selection, it’s one of the things that me and Zulu (Lance Klusener, the batting coach) are trying to correct and put in them,” added Ntini.
With few reasons for Dhoni to change a winning combination, Faiz Fazal might have to wait longer for his T20I debut. Zimbabwe, which came in with an 18-man squad, could shake its line-up again for the decider.
Last year, when India toured the country, a disciplined all-round showing from the host helped it post its maiden win in the 20-over format against India and end the series on a high. It will be hoping for a similar boost this time around too, to add to the motivation of lifting a trophy.