India had not lost a single match on their tour of Zimbabwe. As such, they would have been hopeful of finishing the series on a winning note as well. But, it wasn’t to be as Zimbabwe shocked them to win the second T20, and with it, draw the two-match series 1-1. India did well with the ball to restrict Zimbabwe to a very much gettable total. But, it must be said that Zimbabwe themselves bowled out of their skins to restrict India, and register a much deserved win at Harare.
Looking back at the game, it must be said that India lost their match due to their poor batting effort. There was a hint of complacency in India’s batting as they never bothered to check themselves even when they were losing wickets in a heap. Although India were not chasing a big score, a good start would have helped India, but the early loss of Ajinkya Rahane gave Zimbabwe some semblance of confidence that they could be in with a chance. And, to their credit, they converted the opportunity, and caught India off-guard.
The turning point of the match was definitely the wicket of the well-set Robin Uthappa. He was well set, and could have taken India home with ease. But, the timing of his dismissal, completely derailed India’s chase. India had just lost a couple of quick wickets before that, and the need of the hour was consolidation. Instead, he departed, and India could never recover after that. It was India’s middle-order that failed them. After both the openers failed, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav fell in single-figure scores. And, although Stuart Binny and debutant Sanju Samson hung on for a while, they couldn’t last long enough.
While India should be disappointed, Zimbabwe deserve credit for making India slog. At one stage, India were in a great position at 57 for 1 in the 6th over, but couldn’t capitalise on the same. Graeme Cremer came up with a brilliant bowling performance, picking wickets at key intervals, to unsettle the Indians. Chris Mpofu also took the crucial wicket of Samson while Sean Williams kept things tight apart from claiming Uthappa. Zimbabwe may not have won the earlier matches, but they kept competing, and it all came together on Sunday at Harare for the hosts.
-- By A Cricket Analyst