All-rounder Sikandar Raza fought hard with his incredible sixth ODI century but India survived the scare to win the third and final ODI by 13 runs and complete a 3-0 series sweep of Zimbabwe. After Shubman Gill’s top-class 130 took India to 289-8, Zimbabwe were down and out in the run chase at 169-7.
In came Raza and he slammed 115 off 95 balls, including nine fours and three sixes, to bring Zimbabwe to the verge of a huge victory. He also shared a 104-run partnership off 79 balls with Brad Evans (28), who had earlier taken his maiden five-for in ODI cricket (5-54) as a boisterous home crowd cheered them on.
With 33 needed off the last three overs, India took out the last three wickets, including Evans and Raza in successive overs to complete a narrow victory as Zimbabwe just fell short of crossing the line. For the visitors, Avesh Khan took 3-66 while Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Deepak Chahar took two wickets each and Shardul Thakur had a scalp against his name.
Chahar got India the first breakthrough by trapping Innocent Kaia lbw after getting to change the decision on review. Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Sean Williams slammed fours off Chahar and Avesh. But immediately after getting a top-edge for six off Avesh, Kaitano walked off the field due to a left leg issue.
Williams, the senior pro, and Tony Munyonga stitched a stand of 46 runs for the second wicket to get Zimbabwe on track. While Williams feasted on the pace from Chahar and Thakur, Munyonga lofted down the ground and steered late through the third man to hit consecutive fours off Deepak Hooda’s lone over.
After hitting another four off Thakur, Williams was trapped lbw off a ball from Patel which was quick on stumps and kept low, departing for 45. In the next over, Munyonga miscued to mid-off off Avesh as Zimbabwe lost two wickets in as many balls.
The two wickets in two overs incident repeated when Patel took a sharp catch off his own bowling to dismiss captain Regis Chakabva while Kaitano was stumped easily off Kuldeep Yadav. At the end of the 33rd over, when Ryan Burl fell after heaving straight to mid-on off Chahar, Zimbabwe needed 141 runs off 17 overs.
From the other end, Raza took his time to settle in before taking two fours off Patel. He had luck on his side, surviving an lbw appeal and later on, a stumping chance off Kuldeep. Raza welcomed Chahar into the attack by smacking him over deep mid-wicket for a huge six. From there, he relied on strike rotation till getting three fours, including on a no-ball and free-hit, to take 20 runs off Thakur in the 39th over.
He then hammered crisp fours off Avesh and dispatched Chahar for a flat inside-out six over extra-cover. With a single through cover off Thakur, Raza got his third century in the last six matches to keep Zimbabwe alive in the run-chase. He went on to take Avesh for four and six more as a famous victory loomed for Zimbabwe.
Avesh made a comeback by trapping Evans lbw with a slower ball. In the next over, Thakur delivered the killer punch by having Raza caught for 115, as Gill timed his forward dive at long-on to perfection for completing a low catch. Avesh then sealed the win for India with a yorker to rattle Nyauchi’s stumps.
Brief scores: India 289-8 in 50 overs (Shubman Gill 130, Ishan Kishan 50; Brad Evans 5-54, Victory Nyauchi 1-48) beat Zimbabwe 276 all out in 49.3 overs (Sikandar Raza 115, Sean Williams 45; Avesh Khan 3-66, Axar Patel 2-30) by 13 runs
Press Release, Source: IANS