KL Rahul lauded his team for their efforts in winning a well-battled third ODI, stating it served as a good platform for the bowlers to showcase their skills. He also commented on his personal fitness now that the series is over and how the tour panned out for the team compared to their objectives.
After two heavily one-sided encounters saw India dominate the hosts to seal a series win, the third ODI on Monday at the Harare Sports Club was expected to be no different. However, a resilient Sikandar Raza had other plans as he continued his hot streak in white-ball cricket to take the African outfit ever so close to victory. In the end, the Men in Blue's experience shone through as they edged past the opposition by 13-runs to record a 14th consecutive ODI win over Zimbabwe.
While the 3-0 result was expected given the chasm in quality between the two sides, these encounters were crucial for the likes of Deepak Chahar and KL Rahul to gain match fitness. Moreover, most senior players were rested keeping in mind the hectic schedule to follow, thereby affording opportunities to players such as Sanju Samson and Avesh Khan to prove their mettle on the international stage.
"We came here with a few ideas and wanted to use these games. A few of us haven't got a game for some time and wanted to use the time," skipper KL Rahul was quoted saying by ESPN Cricinfo in the post-match presentation.
In the first innings, Shubman Gill set up the stage wonderfully for India with his maiden ODI century. A calculated and controlled half-century from Ishan Kishan helped as well, taking the visitors to a commendable total of 289. Given that Zimbabwe had been bowled out for sub-200 totals in both the previous games, it seemed like India would record another comfortable victory. That wasn't to be, as Sikander Raza rose to the occasion with his third ODI century in this month alone, and was ably supported by a stable 28 from Brad Evans. However, excellent bowling at the death from Shardul Thakur and Khan ensured Zimbabwe was bowled out with three balls to spare.
"We were very professional with how we played. I wouldn't say nervous but Raza and Evans took it deep. But it is good that we were challenged and the bowlers were tested," KL Rahul added.
The series was pretty crucial for Rahul himself, who was returning to international cricket after an eight-month break owing to a sports hernia. He was named to the squad as captain at the last moment and even though he failed to impress with the bat, the 30-year-old faced no health issues throughout the three games.
"I have fielded for about 150 overs and the body feels good. Will use this confidence for the next series."
The focus for India now shifts to T20s with the World Cup scheduled to take place in October. An Asia Cup starting next week will be followed by bilateral series at home against the Proteas and Australia in preparation for the marquee event.