India clinch T20 series in Zimbabwe in a last-ball thriller

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Kedar Jadhav played a crucial knock.

©Zimbabwe Cricket Twitter

India clinch T20 series in Zimbabwe in a last-ball thriller

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Amlan Majumdar

06/22/2016

Amid a stoppage in the telecast of the match towards the end, India secured a 3-run win over Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Wednesday in the T20 series decider. After a terrible start, Kedar Jadhav guided India to a total of 138, which the hosts nearly chased down in the last over.

Brief Scores: India 138/6 in 20 overs (Kedar Jadhav 58(42), KL Rahul 22(20); Donald Tiripano 3/20) won against Zimbabwe 135/6 in 20 overs (Vusi Sibanda 28(23); Peter Moor 26(21); Dhawal Kulkarni 2/23, Sran 2/31) by 3 runs

For the first time in the tour, India had the opportunity to bat first in a match as Graeme Cremer won the toss and opted to bowl. Zimbabwe had a rare opportunity to win a series against a full member, other than Bangladesh, and Cremer announced three changes to their lineup. Sibanda, Chatara, and Maruma replaced Mutombodzi, Raza, and Muzarabani. India, on the other hand, fielded an unchanged lineup, as Dhoni seemed determined to end the tour on a positive note.

Disastrous start for the visitors

After the opening pair scored just four runs in the first two overs of the match, KL Rahul went berserk in the third over, and hit Tendai Chatara for a couple of fours and a six in the three consecutive deliveries in the third over. However, that proved to be just a flash in the pan as India lost three wickets in a space of just ten deliveries, and seven runs. This was the first time India had lost three wickets in powerplays against Zimbabwe in a T20Is.

Disappointingly for MS Dhoni, it was not great bowling which got Zimbabwe the wickets. Mandeep Singh was dismissed off a short delivery outside the off stump, Rahul dragged the ball onto his stumps when attempting a slog over midwicket, while Pandey was caught short of his crease by Elton Chigumbura. It was not the start India were looking for after receiving the opportunity to display their batting prowess for the first time in the series.

Kedar Jadhav to the rescue

After India's top order was dismantled, it was up to Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav to stabilize the Indian innings. The duo took their time, and restricted their stroke play to mostly singles and doubles. Rayudu and Jadhav put up a 49-run partnership in 49 deliveries, before Rayudu, who batted with a strike-rate of 76.92, holed out at long-on, while attempting to increase the scoring rate.

The wicket brought MS Dhoni to the crease, for just the second time in this tour, and the Indian skipper failed to make an impact, in what will be his last appearance for a long time. However, Jadhav kept going at the other end, and the 31-year-old made full use of the opportunity handed out to him by Masakadza, who dropped his catch when he was batting at 16. The diminutive batsman opened up his arms at the death and took Chatara to the cleaners in the 18th over. He brought up his first T20I half-century with a scrappy boundary in the last delivery of that over, however, those runs were all crucial for India. The visitors managed to score 43 runs in the last three overs, and took the total to a respectable 138.

Also read: Twitter reacts to blackout of India-Zimbabwe telecast and Dhoni's flop show

Sibanda took the fight to India

Like India, Zimbabwe lost their first wicket cheaply as well, when Chamu Chibhabha was removed by Barinder Sran with just 17 runs on the board. However, Vusi Sibanda decided not to go gently into the good night. He went after Dhawal Kulkarni in the fourth over, and smashed him all over the park for three consecutive boundaries. The 32-year-old made sure that the scoreboard kept ticking over, during a 40-run partnership with Hamilton Masakadza for the first wicket.

Kulkarni did have the last laughthough, when he caught Sibanda plumb in front of the wickets in the 11th over. However, by the time he was dismissed, he did leave the middle order batsmen a good platform to launch an assault on the target.

So close, yet too far for Zimbabwe

The quality of cricket in this series has been questionable, but the finale of this series turned out to be a thriller. Needing 32 runs to win the game in the last two overs, Timycen Maruma nearly took his team home with a superb little cameo. He hit Bumrah for a massive six in the 19th over, and with 21 runs required in the last over to win the game, Maruma went after Barinder Sran.

He slogged the first delivery over midwicket for a six, and that set the cats among the pigeons. Under pressure, Sran bowled a wide in the second delivery, while the third was a high full toss, which Maruma hit for a boundary. Zimbabwe needed four runs off the last ball of the innings, but Chigumbura holed out at the cover to bring the dramatic match to an end.

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