Zimbabwe 123 (42.2 overs), India 126/0 (21.5 ovrs) — India won by 10 wickets (with 169 balls remaining)
JUST when it seemed they could not sink any lower, the Zimbabwe cricket team outdid themselves yet again yesterday after literally surrendering to a dispiriting 10-wicket loss to a second-string India side in the third one-day international (ODI) at Harare Sports Club.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The latest dismal performance by the hosts, which ensured the tourists completed a series whitewash without even going into second gear, came on the back of similar lifeless batting performances in the first two ODI matches.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first on what turned out to be a good batting wicket, Zimbabwe looked well set to post a decent total for the first time in the series on 104 for three after 33 overs.
A devastating second spell by India seamer Jasprit Bumrah, combined with some poor shot selection from the Zimbabwe batsmen, however, put paid to any hopes of a consolation.
Bumrah was the pick of the India bowlers, as he finished with figures of four for 22 in 10 overs as the home side collapsed to 123 all out in 42.2 overs, with only four batsmen reaching double figures.
Having been made to chase measly totals of 168 and 126 in the first two ODIs, India were never going to let this opportunity slip and in the end, they comfortably cruised to the winning target with 169 balls to spare and without losing a wicket.
The opening pair of debutant Faiz Fazal (55) and man of the series, Lokesh Raul (63) hardly showed any mercy for the hosts, as they steered the tourists to victory without breaking a sweat at any stage.
In stark contrast, Zimbabwe’s batsmen never showed the same assuredness and composure, while batting, as they were on the back foot from the onset.
The hosts had only 19 runs on the board when former captain Hamilton Masakadza was caught behind after charging down the wicket and slashing at a wide delivery.
It could have gone worse for the hosts, but Vusi Sibanda was dropped at square leg by Yuzvendra Chahal after top-edging Barinder Srander, having faced only four deliveries.
Sibanda looked to have taken advantage of a rare India slip-up and together with Chamu Chibhabha, the pair bravely tackled India’s disciplined bowling incredibly well, adding 36 runs for the second wicket stand.
But just as they looked to accelerate the scoring rate, Chibhabha holed out Chahal’s tossed-up delivery to Bumrah to depart for 27 off 66 deliveries.
Sibanda, who had made a half-century in the first match, also looked well set to kick on after his 38, but not for the first time in the series, the hosts’ innings fell apart in the middle overs.
Sibanda offered a tame return catch to Chahal before man of the match Bumrah dismissed Timycen Maruma and Elton Chigumbura in consecutive deliveries.
The next over saw Malcolm Waller run out after a mix-up with Richmond Mutumbami and skipper Graeme Cremer trapped lbw first ball, meaning that Zimbabwe had lost four wickets in four deliveries.
All in all, the hosts lost their last seven wickets for 19 runs, their second successive batting collapse after they lost six for 20 to lose by eight wickets in the second ODI on Monday.
While local cricket fans seem to be running out of patience with the team’s poor displays, Zimbabwe captain, Cremer appealed for more time, before promising a better display by his charges in the Twenty20 series starting at the same venue on Saturday.
“It is disappointing. Things are not going well for us. We have new coaches and myself as captain. We are going to try our best to turn it around. Maybe the T20 series is just what we need to get back into that positive frame of mind. We’ll have to pick ourselves up to try and compete in that series,” he said.