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Bowlers, openers set up Indian sweep

Wisden India logo Wisden India 15-06-2016

Measured, clinical and professional all through their current tour of Zimbabwe, India persisted with their virtues to secure a comprehensive ten-wicket victory in the third and final One-Day International at the Harare Sports Club on Wednesday (June 15). India thus wrapped up the ODI series 3-0 to complete their first whitewash away from home under Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Zimbabwe, batting by choice after Graeme Cremer won the toss and made five changes to the playing XI, once again failed to apply themselves. Their top order again struggled to rotate strike, and was given a working over by Dhawal Kulkarni, while Yuzvendra Chahal (2 for 25) and Jasprit Bumrah (4 for 22) feasted on the soft underbelly that the lower middle order is. Zimbabwe found all escape hatches battened down after losing four wickets in as many deliveries in the middle of the innings, and could only muster 123 before being bowled out in 42.2 overs.

A regulation chase was very much on the cards, and debutant Faiz Fazal and KL Rahul, India’s openers, made full use of the flat surface devoid of any grass to knock off the paltry total in 21.5 overs. Rahul, who scored an unbeaten 100 on debut in the first ODI, struck an unbeaten 70-ball 63, while Fazal was 55 not out off 61 balls.

The duo played with composure to overcome a tricky session before lunch as the new-ball pair of Neville Madziva and Donald Tiripano bowled with discipline. Fazal, who replaced Karun Nair, looked in fine touch, while Rahul was steadfast in defence as they wiped off 23 runs in seven overs before the break.

Fazal displayed his elegant stroke-making ability after the break, driving Mazdiva through covers in the eighth over. The-cover drive off Tawanda Mupariwa in the next over had class written all over it. Rahul too joined the party, collecting three consecutive fours off Mupariwa in the 13th overs, before launching a massive straight six off Cremer.

Fazal brought up his maiden half-century off just 58 balls – a knock studded with six fours and a well-timed six off Cremer. Rahul completed the formalities with a six and a four to leave a massive 22.1 overs unutilised.

Zimbabwe were caught betwixt and between when they batted, their inability to rotate strike hurting their chances early on before they were undone by a sensational collapse.

Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha, the openers, started positively, the latter driving Kulkarni in the second over through the covers. Masakadza followed suit, getting off the mark with a brilliant pull shot off Barinder Sran. But Sran and Kulkarni stifled the duo for the most part.

Masakadza shuffled a lot at the crease despite the fact that Kulkarni was moving most of the deliveries away from him, and edged a drive to Rahul at first slip in the sixth over. India would have had their second wicket soon after had Chahal held on to a thick edge off Vusi Sibanda, who came in at No. 3.

Zimbabwe’s innings then slipped into a comatose state, with the run-rate hovering under three for most part. Despite finding the middle of the bat, Chibhabha and Sibanda struggled to find the gaps. With the runs drying up completely, Chibhabha charged down the track off the first ball of Chahal’s second over, only to hole out to Bumrah at long-off, thus ending the 36-run second-wicket partnership.

Sibanda got lucky again when Dhoni failed to hold on to an edge off Axar Patel’s bowling in the 24th over. Sibanda then changed gears and struck a six and four off Sran, but his resilience came to an end when he was caught and bowled by Chahal, becoming the leggie’s second victim.

Bumrah had been troubling the Zimbabwean batsmen ever since he was introduced in the 11th over. He dismissed Timcyen Maruma and Elton Chigumbura off consecutive deliveries in the 33rd over. While he broke through Maruma’s defence, Chigumbura edged his first ball straight to Dhoni.

Those two quick wickets triggered a collapse that Zimbabwe failed to recover from. Malcolm Waller was run out soon after, and Cremer failed to read Patel’s arm ball and was trapped in front. From 104 for 3, Zimbabwe had slipped to 104 for 7.

Bumrah did not get a hat-trick, but was rewarded with the wickets of Richmond Mutumbami and Mupariwa on his return. The last pair of Madziva and Tiripano resisted briefly before the latter was run out as Zimbabwe folded for their second lowest total against India.

In all, they lost their last seven wickets for 19 runs, echoing their batting on Monday when they lost seven wickets for 20 runs to succumb to an eight-wicket loss.

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