A clinical India clinched the three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, pulling off another fine all-round show to crush the minnows by eight wickets for an unassailable 2-0 lead, in Harare on Monday.
It was a dominant performance yet again from the new-look Indian side whose bowlers first skittled the hosts for a lowly 126 in 34.3 overs and the batsmen hardly broke a sweat to get past the target in only 26.5 overs. If India manage a ‘whitewash’ by winning the third ODI on Wednesday, then it would be a hat-trick of series wins for the Indian teams, maintaining a clean slate in the African nation after their victories in 2013 and 2015.
If young leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3/25) broke the backbone of the Zimbabwe middle-order, it was Ambati Rayudu who hit 41 off 44 balls to finish the game with a flourish. With the target hardly posing any challenge, last match’s centurion KL Rahul (33) added 58 runs in company of Karun Nair (39 off 68 balls) for the opening stand. The Rayudu-Nair pair added 67 runs for the second wicket.
Nair, on his part, got much-needed confidence with some runs under his belt but the manner in which he played was more about self preservation on a slightly tricky track. When Nair was finally gone trying to sweep a straight delivery from Graeme Cremer, India needed only two runs which Manish Pandey (4 no) completed with a boundary. But it was Rayudu, who hit a flurry of boundaries — seven in all to finish the match with 23.1 overs to spare.
With ball darting around a bit, the Indian batsmen were cautious and Nair for one was lucky to get a reprieve when he edged one off Tendai Chatara only to find that the bowler had overstepped.
In the end, it was another lopsided contest that went India’s way with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni not needing to even wear his leg guards for the second time in a row. Earlier, Chahal scalped three wickets as India produced another professional bowling effort to dismiss a fragile Zimbabwe batting line-up for 126. Zimbabwe lost their last seven wickets for 20 runs to be bundled out in 34.3 overs. Indian pacers Barinder Sran (2/17) and Dhawal Kulkarni (2/31) performed their duties early on before leggie Chahal (3/25) joined the party in his second ODI.