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Rahane's India eyes strong finish

“We have nothing to lose, we can go out and express ourselves,” says Zimbabwe's Mpofu ahead of final T20I

Rahane's India eyes strong finish  - Cricket News
India captain Ajinkya Rahane (2nd R) leads his team off the field after their victory in the first of two Twenty20 international cricket matches between Zimbabwe and India at the Harare Sports Club on July 17, 2015 in Harare. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)
The four matches played so far against the visiting Indian side have not gone as Zimbabwe would have wanted. Now, it has one last chance to show its spunk when the sides face off in the second and final Twenty20 International on Sunday (July 19) at the Harare Sports Club.

An Indian squad devoid of the usual superstars took the three-match One-Day International series 3-0. It followed that up with a 54-run win in the first T20I on Friday – its third-largest victory in terms of runs.

For the game, Indian handed T20I debuts to five players: Stuart Binny, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel and Sandeep Sharma, with a similar side expected to take the field for the final match. However, if Zimbabwe hopes to take advantage of this inexperience, it will have to think again. The youngsters have a wealth of experience playing 20-over cricket in India, which has prepped them for the international stage. 

This is something India's Robin Uthappa endorsed after the game. “I think we play so much of T20 cricket, all of us must have played 100 games each in the IPL, and there the pressure is a lot more,” he said. “There's more of a crowd, you want to perform, you're playing the best players in the world. You're already basically cooked when you're coming in here, so you're ready for it,” he added.

Ajinkya Rahane's side amassed 178 for 5 after winning the toss and choosing to bat, on the back of contributions from the top four. It consolidated in the last ten overs to plunder 96 runs. The fact that Zimbabwe gave away as many as 25 extras, which was the fourth highest in a T20I innings, didn’t help the home side.

Chasing 179 for victory, after Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha, the openers, added 55 in 8.1 overs, Zimbabwe lost 4 for 13 runs. Axar levied a double-strike in the tenth over to dismiss Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura, the captain, and Zimbabwe could not recover. It finished on 124 for 7.   

Axar, who did not get an opportunity with the bat, will be high on confidence going in to the last game, having been adjudged player of the match for his returns of 3 for 17. 

Given the good run of the side, Uthappa insisted that India wanted to finish strongly. "The thing is we know that we've got this opportunity, we've come here and we want to make sure that we finish strongly. 

"We've played really well in the last four games and I definitely think all of us want to finish strongly. Everyone wants to put their hand up and perform well, and that's what we're looking forward to doing in the next game," he said.
Zimbabwe also had two debutants, having handed caps to Neville Madziva and Taurai Muzarabani. Both of them went for runs and will hope they get another chance to prove themselves on Friday.

Two positives for Chigumbura's side to take into the final game of the series are that Graeme Cremer seemed to rediscover his confidence and Chris Mpofu picked up 3 for 33 after returning to the side.

When asked what Zimbabwe could do differently heading into the final game of the series, Mpofu exuded optimism, saying, “We can try and cut a few boundaries early on … Because what they did well today was they attacked the first two balls of the over and then they rotated the strike, which is something we didn’t manage. As bowlers, we can cut a few boundaries out early on and then we’ll be good.

"It might be a missed opportunity, but for us going into the last match, we have nothing to lose, so if we can go out and express ourselves … Not many people will expect us to win, but if we go out there with the attitude that we have everything to gain, I think we will come out with a victory."

Teams (from):

Ajinkya Rahane (capt), M Vijay, Sanju Samson, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.

Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Charles Coventry, Craig Ervine, Graeme Cremer, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Chris Mpofu, Taurai Muzarabani, John Nyumbu, Donald Tiripano, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.

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