Harare, July 13 (IANS) After suffering two back-to-back defeats against a second string Indian side, Zimbabwe know they have to somehow clinch the third and last One-Day International (ODI) and avoid a brownwash to carry some momentum into the Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) as the two teams lock horns here on Tuesday.
The hosts have already lost the series but going into the dead rubber they would still have their tails up as they gave the mighty Indians a run for their money in the first game here on Friday at the Harare Sports Club.
It was a thriller in which the visitors pulled of a breathtaking victory, only by four runs. Elton Chigumbura scored a valiant unbeaten 104 but failed to take his side home. However, their batting did click, and with the leather they restricted India to only 255/6.
In the second ODI two days later, India put on a formidable total of 271/8. The hosts however, failed to hunt down the total as pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept chipping away at the wickets and finally ended up with figures of 4/33. India won by 62 runs.
Going into the third ODI, the men in ‘tomato red’ shirts would know they have to play out of their skins to clinch the contest, as the non-regulars in the Indian side will be trying to grab hold of anything and everything that comes their way to cement their places in the team which could mean some blazing cricket from the visiting outfit.
The head-to-head also favour the Indians as they have clinched 47 out of 59 games and lost only 10.
The newest Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane has so far led his side well. He has kept his cool and brought in the bowling changes as and when they were required. He has also been amongst the runs with scores of 34 and 63.
Others in the top order have also performed to their potential. Baroda batsman Ambati Rayadu smashed his way to 124 runs in the first ODI and then followed it up with a knock of 41 but he will miss the rest of the tour due to an injury. Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson has been called in as his replacement.
The bowling has been a little wobbly at times, but nonetheless they have delivered the goods when required, Bhuvneshwar, Stuart Binny and veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh have all been amongst wickets.
However, the Zimbabweans with their backs to the wall and nothing to lose would come out all guns blazing, banking on their arsenal which consist of batsmen like Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha and bowlers – Neville Madziva, Donald Tiripano and Brian Vitori – who have thus far been quite impressive with the leather.
But if the Indians continue their rollicking form and pocket the third ODI too, then they would cement themselves on the second spot in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings for the next month.