INDIA TOUR OF ZIMBABWE, 2024

Gill, Gaikwad and Sundar help India take 2-1 lead

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Shubman Gill struck a 49-ball 66
Shubman Gill struck a 49-ball 66 © AFP

India took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series with a 23-run win over Zimbabwe in the third T20I in Harare. Washington Sundar was named Player of the Match for his bowling figures of 3 for 15, helping India defend a par total of 182.

What was the difference between the sides?

The fielding, clearly. Sikandar Raza, speaking after the loss, spoke about conceding "20 extra runs" in the field, without which the contest promised to be much tighter in the middle. There were at least three dropped chances by the hosts, with Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal all getting a reprieve, but even the ground fielding in general left much to be desired. India, in contrast, took their catches and were great in the outfield.

India

PowerPlay: Fast start for India

Phase score: 55/0 (8x4s, 3x6s)

Zimbabwe started with an offspinner against Yashasvi Jaiswal, who was back in the squad after his quick trip back home, but it was a tactic that backfired almost immediately and saw 15 runs taken off the opening over. Shubman Gill, partnering Jaiswal at the top, then laid into Richard Ngarava and took 14 runs off the next over. Tendai Chatara's introduction played out similarly, with Jaiswal hitting him for a boundary and a six as India found themselves flying at 41/0 after three overs. But Blessing Muzarabani's introduction slowed things down a touch and the visitors had to make do with only 14 runs off the last three PowerPlay overs. Zimbabwe were sloppy in the field, allowing India to get away with a few extra runs.

Middle overs: Zimbabwe make a comeback

Phase score: 72/2 (7x4s, 2x6s)

It took the introduction of captain Raza for Zimbabwe to land the first blow and break the 67-run opening stand. Jaiswal, who was dropped three balls earlier, botched a reverse sweep and handed a catch to backward point. Abhishek Sharma, having walked out in the middle overs in a new role, looked a bit out of touch and was caught on the bigger legside boundary, again off Raza's bowling. Ruturaj Gaikwad walked out to bat next but India lost momentum in these middle overs, scoring only 48 runs between overs 4 and 12. But just when Zimbabwe looked in the ascendancy, Wessley Madhevere conceded 19 runs off the 13th over, with both Gaikwad and Gill taking him down for a maximum each.

Death overs: Sloppy hosts allow India past 180

Phase score: 55/2 (4x4s, 3x6s)

Zimbabwe started this phase of play on a very tight note, with Ngarava conceding only 3 runs off the 16th over but India decided to take down Raza in his final over and take him for 18 runs. Gill, who got to a fifty off 36 balls, fell trying to force the pace and handed a catch to mid-off, where Raza took a catch much to the relief of his teammates who had been found wanting in the field. Gaikwad couldn't quite get to his fifty but his 29-ball 49 allowed India to get to a total of 182/4, which Yashasvi felt was a "good score" on a "two-paced" pitch.

Zimbabwe

PowerPlay: Bowlers start well for India

Phase score: 37/3 (7x4s, 0x6s)

Zimbabwe in this phase were a mix of aggression and setbacks. Khaleel Ahmed opened with early boundaries from Tadiwanashe Marumani but it took Avesh Khan one delivery with the new ball to send back Wessly Madhevere at the other end. The back-to-back wickets of Marumani and Brian Bennett, coming in the space of four balls, really hurt the hosts then. Marumani fell while trying to hit over mid-on whereas Bennett fell to an outstanding flying catch by Bishnoi at backward point. Sikandar Raza brought stability, hitting consecutive boundaries off Avesh and reaching 5000 T20 runs, but the damage had been done upfront.

Middle overs: India's lack of fifth bowler laid bare

Phase score: 73/3 (7x4s, 2x6s)

It started well for India, with Washington Sundar picking the big wickets of Raza and Johnathan Campbell in the first over after PowerPlay. Zimbabwe were tottering at 49/5 after nine overs but then the 77-run stand between Dion Myers (65* off 49) and Clive Madande (37 off 26) really came into its own. The duo went hard at Abhishek Sharma and Shivam Dube, who bowled their combined 4 overs for 50 runs. Madande even hit Dube for back-to-back sixes in the 15th over, giving the hosts a glimmer of hope, with 73 needed off the final five overs.

Death overs: Frontline bowlers secure win

Phase score: 49/1 (3x4s, 2x6s)

No sooner than India's frontline bowlers were into the attack that the side looked in control of things again. Khaleel bowled the 16th over for only 2 runs before Sundar (4-015-3) struck in the next over to get rid of Madande, caught in the deep by Rinku Singh. Bishnoi, bowling the 19th over, conceded 16 runs in the penultimate over and then Avesh gave away 18 runs in the final over but a couple of tight overs at the start of this phase had more than sealed the game for India.

Brief scores: India 182/4 (Gill 66, Gaikwad 49; Raza 2-24, Muzarabani 2-25) beat Zimbabwe 159/6 (Myers 65*; Sundar 3-15, Avesh 2-39) by 23 runs.

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