India outplayed Zimbabwe to register a 13-run victory at the Harare Sports Club here and clinched the three-match ODI series by 3-0 on Monday. India completed a 3-0 ODI series clean sweep courtesy of a Shubman Gill ton.
KL Rahul was a late addition to the Indian squad, with Shikhar Dhawan initially set to lead the side. In order for the Indian vice-captain to get some much-needed match practice ahead of the Asia Cup, it was decided to draft him into the side for the series. Rahul did not get to bat in the first game and only made 1 in the second ODI.
The opener finally got to spend time in the middle, facing 46 deliveries for a knock of 30. Though he did not look at his flowing best, his time facing some deliveries could prove to be invaluable with some tough tests ahead.
Shubman Gill has had a stunning start to life in ODI cricket as he pushes his case to be a permanent fixture in the squad. And he did his case no harm by notching up a maiden international century.
His knock was control personified while also crisply timing the ball. After India’s sedate start, he helped the visitors up the ante, scoring at run-a-ball. He also allowed Ishan Kishan to settle in, with their partnership of 140 laying the foundation for India to post a reasonably big score.
His knock of 130 came in only 97 deliveries, before perishing against Brad Evans (who notched up his first five-wicket haul in international cricket). But the job was done as India ended up posting a total of 289/8.
Zimbabwe had a tall ask in hand to chase this total down. They were not helped by three of their top four batters failing to notch up big scores. Takudzwanashe Kaitano (13), Innocent Kaia (6) and Tony Munyonga (15) all fell relatively cheaply.
But Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza kept the hosts’ fight going. Williams first took the attack on, scoring a 46-ball 45 before being trapped by Axar Patel. His knock included 7 boundaries.
As Zimbabwe kept on losing wickets, Raza, Zimbabwe’s man in form unleashed a fiery knock. Raza was severe against the Indian bowling attack, especially Shardul Thakur, smashing him for 20 in one over. By this point he was their last hope alive, being well set after bringing up his fifty, as Zimbabwe had already lost seven wickets.
Raza wouldn’t give up though, bringing up a brilliant century, the sixth of his career. His partnership with Brad Evans would be worth 104 runs, which got Zimbabwe close to the target. Evans would do his job brilliantly, rotating the strike, while Raza went all guns blazing.
The big breakthrough would finally come when Avesh Khan trapped Evans lbw for 28. Gill made another big contribution, taking a brilliant catch as Raza’s stunning knock of 115 came to an end, with Shardul Thakur getting the wicket.
Zimbabwe still needed 15 runs when Raza fell and agonisingly they ended up short by 13 runs, with Khan getting the final wicket of Victor Nyauchi. But it was a performance which would leave them with a lot of positives.
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Shubman Gill have all scored their maiden ODI centuries against Zimbabwe.
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