By BV Swagath
India eased to a 9-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the fourth ODI at Bulawayo to find itself on the brink of a cleansweep. Zimbabwe put up its worst batting show, getting bowled out for just 144 runs. India made no fuss of the target and got the runs with 19.5 overs to spare.
Debutant seamer Mohit Sharma had a fabulous outing taking 2 for 26 with three maidens in 10 overs to get the Man of the Match award. Mohit gave the first wicket for India with a beautiful outswinger that curled in and swung away late to force a nick from Sikandar Raza to the keeper in the 7th over with Zimbabwe scoring only 16 on the board. Four overs later, India got its second wicket thanks to a rocket throw from Jadeja at point to run out Hamilton Masakadza at the bowling end. Skipper Brendan Taylor once again flopped and got out for a duck, this time it was a dubious lbw decision off an arm ball from Jadeja which appeared to be sliding down leg.
In the 15th over, left-handed Sean Williams got out for a duck losing his off stump to a late away swinger from Jaydev Unadkat. Four balls later, opener Vusi Sibanda (24 from 45 balls) was cleaned up by a deadly arm ball from Jadeja. Zimbabwe was 47 for 5 even before leggie Amit Mishra was introduced into the attack. Mishra took three wickets to help India wrap up the Zimbabwean tail.
There was an 80-run stand for the 6th wicket before Mishra’s strikes which helped the hosts to escape the embarrassment of getting skittled out for a cheap total. Elton Chigumbura, who was part of that partnership, scored a half century. The right-hander remained unbeaten on 50 from 66 balls. Malcolm Waller, who had the 6th wicket stand with Chigumbura, scored 35 from 77 balls. Mohit Sharma broke the crucial sixth wicket stand by having Waller edge him to the keeper.
Chasing just the 145 runs, India lost Cheteshwar Pujara early when the right-hander dragged a drive onto the leg stump in the 10th over off Tendai Chatara. That was the only casualty for India as the duo of Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, who was promoted at no.3, was determined to get some runs in this series. Rohit worked hard to collect 64* (from 90 balls with 5 fours and a six) while Suresh Raina played a positive knock from the outset, scoring 65* from 71 balls with 6 fours.
Toss and Teams: India has won the toss and elected to field first in the Fourth ODI at the Queen’s Park Oval in Bulawayo. Conditions here are better for batting than in Harare but the early morning start will aid the seamers. Experts believe that a total of 280 is on par for this surface.
Zimbabwe has retained the same XI while India has made two changes with debutants Cheteshwar Pujara and seamer Mohit Sharma replacing Shikhar Dhawan and Vinay Kumar.
Zimbabwe: Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (C&WK), Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya, Tendai Chatara, Brian Vitori, Michael Chinouya
India: Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Shami Ahmed, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma