India blow away Zim to level series

HARARE - A wounded India yesterday thumped Zimbabwe by 10 wickets, setting the stage for a do-or-die series decider for the Prayag Cup T20 tomorrow.

Zimbabwe won the toss and skipper Graeme Cremer chose to bat first, probably with Saturday’s victory, when they also batted first, still lingering at the back of his mind.

At the weekend, the home side’s batsmen performed admirably well to post a competitive target of 170-6 after 20 overs.

It was, however, going to be a different script altogether, as Zimbabwe’s batsmen went from sublime to put in a really pathetic performance.

It was India’s bowlers who dictated the proceedings with top-notch bowling.

Zimbabwe cricket suffers from chronic lack of consistency and yesterday’s batting innings was just a page plucked from this book.

Batsmen get in and fail to play through the innings, eventually getting out in quick succession with no meaningful runs on the board.

A disastrous innings by the hosts ended at 99 for 9 leaving India needing 100 runs to win from 20 overs.

Somewhat of an aggressive start by opener Chamu Chibhabha was cut short early as India’s openers made early inroads into the Zimbabwe batting line-up.

He went for 10 from 11 deliveries off the bowling of debutant Barinder Sran.

Man-of-the-match Sran, who finished with superb figures of 4-10 in his four overs, claimed his second scalp when he disturbed seasoned campaigner Hamilton Masakadza’s stumps for 10 from 12 balls.

With the visitors on the front foot having claimed the scalp of the two openers, Sikanda Raza was India’s next victim, gone for one.

Tino Mutombodzi headed straight back to the pavilion soon after coming in for a golden duck after Sran trapped him leg before wicket.

With Zimbabwe reeling, PJ Moor looked good and formed a brief partnership with Malcolm Waller before the latter was dismissed for 14 leaving Zimbabwe at 57 for 5.

Moor inflicted a few nasty blows in the Indian spin attack before surviving after he edged one up in the air only for Yuzvendra Chahal to drop him off his own bowling.

An over later, however, Moor departed for 31 off 47 balls from the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah.

Hopes rested on the shoulders of the star man from the first T20, former skipper Elton Chigumbura.

So much was expected from a man whose innings lit up Harare Sports Club on Saturday. It was not to be as two overs later, he was clean bowled by Bumrah for eight.

Three balls later, another hero from the first game, also fell victim to the dangerous seam bowling of Bumrah.

This time Neville Madziva, whose heroics in the last over with the ball, was also clean bowled for one.

Zimbabwe limped to 90 for 8 after 19 overs. Cremer went off the second ball of the last over for 4.

In reply, India’s opening pair of KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh was never really threatened.

They were just waiting for the odd bad ball to put away, scoring slowly at 5.6 runs an over in the opening 5 overs.

At 74 for no wicket after 10 overs, the target was already within the grasp of India.

In the end, it was an easy stroll in the park for the opening pair with Rahul finishing unbeaten on 47 off 40 balls and Mandeep also unbeaten on 52 off 40 balls.

The bowling was not that bad from Zimbabwe, but there just wasn’t enough runs on the board to defend.

Cremer bemoaned the below par score.

“We started slowly and lost wickets at crucial times. Disappointing, the pitch misbehaved a bit but getting bowled out for 99, is just not good enough. Final on Wednesday (tomorrow), we are still excited,” he said.

India captain, MS Dhoni credited his bowlers and team’s fielding saying: “ Bowlers started it all, important to start well. I was a bit worried that it was the third match on the same wicket.

“Backed by some good fielding, I emphasised that we had to run harder than we did in the last game.”

The third and last match, which has turned out to be a series decider, is on at Harare Sports Club tomorrow afternoon.

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