Only Sean Williams and Ryan Burl made significant scores as Zimbabwe struggled with the bat again before India romped home by five wickets in the second one-day international match at Harare Sports Club on Saturday to clinch the three-match series.
The hosts made two changes to their team from the first match, bringing in Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Tanaka Chivanga to replace Tadiwanashe Marumani and Richard Ngarava.
India again won the toss and as before sent Zimbabwe in to bat.
The Zimbabwe innings, opened by Kaitano and Innocent Kaia, never got off the ground properly against good and accurate bowling that made scoring difficult.
Only three runs were scored in the first three overs, against the bowling of Mohammad Siraj and Prasidh Krishna, and the score was 20 in the ninth over when Kaitano edged a catch off Siraj to Sanju Samson behind the stumps, having made seven off 32 balls.
Kaia had been rather more fluent, but after scoring 16 off 27 balls he edged an attempted pull off Shardul Thakul to the keeper – 27 for two in the 12th over.
The new man, captain Regis Chakabva, came and went in the same over for two, nicking a catch into the slips to make it 29 for three.
Wessly Madhevere (2) became the third wicket to fall in nine balls as Krishna now picked up his first scalp, the batter edging the ball to give Samson his third catch – 31 for four in the 13th over.
This brought together the experienced pair of Sikandar Raza and Williams with a very difficult task on their hands now. They brought up the team fifty in the 16th over. Williams was the first to open out, hitting Krishna for a four and a six off successive deliveries, although the maximum was scored off the top edge over fine leg.
Raza survived on review an lbw decision against him off Axar Patel, although the left-arm spinner was giving him some trouble. The pair struggled for runs when the left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav came on to bowl with Patel, and in his second over he disposed of Raza, who miscued a cut to be caught at backward point for 16 off 31 balls – 72 for five after 21 overs.
Burl, the last of the major batters, came in to join Williams, and at first concentrated on settling in and supporting his partner.
The team hundred came up in the 27th over, but five runs later Williams fell, choosing the wrong delivery from the off-spinner Deepak Hooda for the slog-sweep and hitting a catch straight to deep backward square leg – he scored 42 from 42 balls, and the score was 105 for six wickets.
Luke Jongwe was in next, and both batters played careful cricket for a while, taking the score to 129 in the 33rd over before Jongwe, having just made one drive for four, attempted another and was bowled by Shardul Thakur for six.
Burl was now batting well, but Brad Evans played a rather risky innings for nine until he tried to cut a ball from Patel and chopped it on to his stumps – 149 for eight after 37 overs. Burl now began to hit out well, but poor running led to both his last two partners being run out within the next seven balls.
Victor Nyauchi did not face a ball before he was run out, but Chivanga hit a four before Burl called him for a risky second run to try to keep the strike, and he failed to beat the throw. Burl was not out with 39, scored off 47 balls, with a six and three fours.
The innings closed after 38.1 overs for a total of 161, with only four Zimbabwean batters reaching double figures. Thakur was the most successful of the India bowlers with three wickets for 38 runs in seven overs.
The five other bowlers used all took a wicket each, and there were two run-outs at the end. Siraj had the remarkably economical figures of one for 16 off eight overs, while Patel was not far behind, with one for 20 off seven.
In the second over of the chase, Nyauchi, who opened the bowling with Chivanga, struck a blow when a full-length ball on the off stump beat Lokesh Rahul, the India captain, and he was given out lbw for one despite calling for a review.
Dhawan was in fine form, playing his strokes freely and racing to 33 off 21 balls, but perhaps he was a little too hasty, as he miscued a short ball from Chivanga and skyed it to Kaia at square leg – 47 for two in the seventh over.
Shubman Gill also played freely and well, but the next man, Ishan Kishan, never got going, scoring six off 13 balls before playing on to his stumps a ball from Jongwe at 83 for three in the 12th over.
In his next over Jongwe struck again, with a ball short and outside the off stump, which Gill slashed at, but only succeeded in slicing a catch to Evans at deep third man – he had scored 33 off 34 balls and the score was 97 for four after 14 overs.
Another wicket at this stage might have given Zimbabwe an outside chance, but Hooda and Samson settled in and pushed the score along safely and steadily. As they neared the target, Samson began to hit out more, hitting Raza for four and six in three balls and then smashing two successive sixes off Williams.
However, Hooda was the man who fell just before the end, deceived and bowled by a slow yorker from Raza for 25 – he faced 26 balls and the score was 153 for five, with nine runs needed for victory now.
Kaia was given the ball, and Samson finished the match with a six over long-on, taking the score to 167 for five off only 25.4 overs and Samson himself to 43, scored off 39 balls with four sixes and three fours.
Of the bowlers, Jongwe took two wickets for 33 off four overs, while Chivanga, Ngarava and Raza took a wicket each, Raza being the most economical with 16 runs off four overs. India have now won the series after recording victories in the first two of the three-match series.
The final game will take place at Harare Sports Club again on Monday.
Zimbabwe – 161 all out in 38.1 overs (Sean Williams 42, Ryan Burl 39*, Innocent Kaia 16; Shardul Thakur 3/38, Deepak Hooda 1/6, Mohammed Siraj 1/16)
India – 167-5 in 25.4 overs (Sanju Samson 43*, Shikhar Dhawan 33, Shubman Gill 33; Luke Jongwe 2/33, Sikandar Raza 1/16, Victor Nyauchi 1/32)
India won by five wickets
Regis Chakabva: We had a really good fight in the field. We’ve struggled to pick early wickets in the last few games and we did that today. We fell shot of runs on the board. Our execution lacked a little bit in the end, and we’re looking to score more runs. The bowlers came out charging and they tried to hit their lengths.
Sanju Samson is the Player of the Match for his three catches and unbeaten 43: How much ever time you spend in the middle feels good. I took three catches but I missed a stumping too; as keepers we’re used to listening to things we didn’t do well. I really enjoyed keeping and contributing to the win. In this match the fast bowlers picked the length much quicker and I really enjoyed keeping.
KL Rahul: We bat deep and it’s good for some of the guys to get time in the middle. We weren’t nervous. It didn’t work (laughs, on the changed batting order), I wanted to get some runs but it didn’t happen. Hopefully in the next game. They have some quality bowlers in the attack and they bowled well to Bangladesh, I watched it on the television.
the bowlers did come hard, they’re tall and big and strong boys. Good challenge for us as batters, but we bat deep so it wasn’t a worry. We’re here to play good cricket and win. It’s a great turnout today, it’s a weekend, and wherever we go across the world we get good support from Indian fans, so thanks to them.