Having already wrapped up a series win, India are set to use the final match of its three-match One-Day International series in Zimbabwe for further experimentation. After sealing a nail-biting victory to open the series in Harae, an inexperienced squad made it two wins out of two in more convincing fashion on Sunday with a 62-run triumph.
The victory was based on the solid foundation of a 112-run opening partnership between captain for the series Ajinkya Rahane and M Vijay en route to a total of 271 in their 50 overs. While Chamu Chibhabha scored 72 in attempt to build a similar start for Zimbabwe in their response, Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets to help bowl the hosts out for 209. After India, with a couple of exceptions, struggled with the bat in the opening match, Vijay explained that the team was desperate to avoid giving away wickets early on.
“After the first match we sat together as a team and spoke about it,” he told the Board of Control for Cricket in India website. “We said we cannot give away early wickets because it puts pressure on the middle-order. I felt Ajinkya and I did really well today to bat the way we did in the first 10 overs because the ball was doing a bit. I could have got a big one but that is a part of the game. I am satisfied with my performance because in the end the team won.”
It was still not a great showing from India’s middle order, however, with Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa and Kedar Jadhav again doing little to press their claim for a place in India’s first-choice lineup going forward. There could even be changes to that area of the team ahead of the start of the teams’ two-match Twenty20 series on Friday. In particular, Manish Pandey and Sandeep Sharma are in contention to make their international debuts. There will definitely be one alteration to the battling lineup, with India’s top scorer in the first two matches, Ambati Rayudu, ruled out of the rest of the tour after pulling his right quadriceps muscle during the second match of the series. Uncapped 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson has been called in as a replacement.
Zimbabwe have endured their own injury problems during the series. Fast bowler Tinashe Panyangara suffered a side strain in the opening match, while all-rounder Sean Williams injured his knee in the second and is unlikely to be risked with just pride on the line on Tuesday.
Still, there is no doubt that, even with the chance of a positive result in the series already gone, Zimbabwe will be keen to end on a high. Dating back to the World Cup earlier this year, Zimbabwe have now lost eight consecutive ODI matches, which has seen them slip behind Ireland to 11th place in the rankings.
Start time: Tuesday, 3 a.m. EDT
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