A power-packed performance with the willow backed up by a dominant show with the ball enabled India to win the final ODI against Zimbabwe by 83 runs and to whitewash the hosts 3-0 in Harare on Tuesday.
In reply to India’s 276/5, Zimbabwe only managed to collect 193 in 42.4 overs. (Scorecard)
Chamu Chibhabha top-scored for Zimbabwe with 82. Stuart Binny was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors, bagging 3/55. Harbhajan Singh, Mohit Sharma and Axar Patel got rid of two scalps each at the Harare Sports Club.
With the ball, India kept Zimbabwe on a tight leash for the first five overs, giving away just 12 runs. The pressure paid off for the team in blue as medium pacer Mohit sent Hamilton Masakadza packing for seven.
The other opener, Chibhabha, and Regis Chakabva then got together to forge a delightful 70-run partnership studded with some well-timed and perfectly placed boundaries. However, left-arm spinner Patel castled Chakabva for 27. After 25 overs Zimbabwe were 97/2.
Skipper Elton Chigumbura started off well but was adjudged leg-before-wicket off a delivery from Murali Vijay who was accurate with his part-time off-spinners. Chibhabha remained unfazed by the situation and kept on making merry out in the middle, clubbing a few big ones.
However, the Indians struck back again getting rid of Richmond Mutumbami and Chibahabha in space of a few overs, courtesy Binny who kept on hurling at a tight channel in one of the turning points of the game.
The medium pacer stuck again getting Malcolm Waller caught behind, but television replays showed Binny had over-stepped and the batsman was given not out in the 36th over.
In the next over though veteran offspinner Harbhajan Singh made up for Binny’s error, picking up two back-to-back wickets and in turn reducing the hosts to 172/7 and taking the sting out of the contest.
Earlier in the day, an unbeaten century (105 not out) by Kedar Jadhav and a flamboyant innings from debutant Manish Pandey (71) made sure that India had a challenging total of 276/5.
The duo put on 144 runs after coming together at 82/4. Pandey finished with 71 off 86 deliveries, while his partner Jadhav top-scored with an unbeaten 105 off 87 balls.
For Zimbabwe, Neville Madzive was the pick of the bowlers, claiming 2/59 in nine overs.
The hosts picked up early wickets, bowling a tight line and length. Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane (15) was the first to get out, followed by his opening partner Murali Vijay (13).
Manoj Tiwary (10) and Robin Uthappa (31) put on a 35-run third wicket partnership before perishing in quick succession to leave India in trouble at 82/4 in the 22nd over.
But Pandey and Jadhav took this in their stride and weaved a useful partnership.
The pair went along without much struggle with Pandey being the aggressor. Both batsmen took a liking for leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, belting him for 10 runs in the 36th over.
They reached the 200-run mark in the 44th over. Pandey fell thereafter holing out in the deep but his partner continued the onslaught, hammering 15 runs off the 48th over.
Stuart Binny (18 off 8 balls) too provided some fireworks in the end to take his side to the challenging total.
India: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Murali Vijay, Manish Pandey, Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa (wicketkeeper), Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Axar Patel, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma.
Zimbabwe: Sikandar Raza Butt, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura (captain), Malcolm Waller, Regis Chakabva, Richmond Mutumbami (wicketkeeper), Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Neville Madziva, Donald Tiripano.