India achieved the first objective on its tour of Zimbabwe on Sunday (July 28), as it crushed the hosts by seven wickets in the third One-Day International to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Amit Mishra’s 4 for 47 was the most noteworthy performance of the match as he helped India bowl Zimbabwe out for just 183 in 46 overs, but it was Virat Kohli’s measured 68 not out from 88 balls that led the tourists to another crushing win.
The only disappointment for Indian fans was, possibly, the absence of any experimentation on the part of the team management, who named the same XI that had won the first two matches comfortably. In all likelihood, several changes would, however, be made for the two dead rubbers.
Although India won the toss and enjoyed some lateral movement up front, Zimbabwe’s poor total was once again due to its inability to bat sensibly.
It took an entertaining rearguard action from the lower order to stave off complete embarrassment, as three of the last four batsmen reached double figures and the last four wickets brought 94 runs.
Vusi Sibanda and Sikandar Raza, the openers, were dismissed in the first seven balls of the innings – Sibanda through a rash shot, and Raza to an excellent awayswinger from Mohammad Shami.
Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor hinted at a recovery as they put together a responsible 65-run stand for the third wicket, but that ended when Taylor misread the pace of the pitch and chipped Jaydev Unadkat to mid-off.
Masakadza advanced to 38 before he was caught behind off Mishra, who then trapped Malcolm Waller lbw with his very next delivery. Elton Chigumbura survived the hat-trick ball, but fell to Ravindra Jadeja three overs later to leave Zimbabwe floundering at 89 for 6.
Sean Williams proved that batting was not as difficult as his teammates were making it out to be as he eased to 45, but then threw his wicket away when he was run out attempting an unlikely second.
Although Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori entertained the growing crowd by swinging away a six apiece, Mishra had the last laugh as he got his googly to get the better of both batsmen. Mishra has now taken nine wickets in the series, with his wrong one accounting for six of them.
After the break, Rohit Sharma registered his third failure of the series as he handed Michael Chinouya his first international wicket in the sixth over of the Indian reply, but Shikhar Dhawan hammered five fours to provide the tourists with a brisk start.
When Dhawan sliced Chatara to cover to depart for 35 from 32 balls, Kohli dug in along with Ambati Rayudu for a 64-run stand that put the result beyond doubt.
Although Rayudu failed to complete the job when he was caught and bowled by Vitori for 33, Suresh Raina took the opportunity to rediscover some form. Raina scored 28 not out as India coasted to victory inside 36 overs.
The final two matches of the series will be played at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on August 1 and 3.