Image courtesy of: The Indian Express
Sharma and Raina ensured India reached their target with little trouble
With India holding on to an unassailable 3-0 lead heading into the fourth ODI, Zimbabwe were desperate to beat their subcontinent opponents at least once, but thanks to a fine all-round bowling performance and some spectacular batting by Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, the Zimbabweans’ wait will have to continue.
India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bowl first on a fresh wicket as he wanted his bowlers to use every ounce of assistance the pitch gave them.
The decision to bowl first definitely looked to be the right one as Zimbabwe found themselves in deep trouble with five of their top batsmen back in the pavilion after having only registered 47 runs on the scoreboard.
However, an 80-run partnership between Malcolm Waller and Elton Chigumbura helped stabilise the Zimbabwe innings as they took the score from 47/5 to 127 before Waller was dismissed by debutant Mohit Sharma for 35.
After the dismissal of Waller, Zimbabwe’s collapse resumed and if it hadn’t been for Chigumbura’s unbeaten 50 off 66 balls, which included four boundaries, Zimbabwe would have never reached 144.
Indian spinner Amit Mishra was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja snapped up two wickets apiece and Mohammed Shami and Jaydev Unadkat both chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing a relatively simple target of 145 to win, India found themselves in a little trouble early on into their innings as opening batsman and debutant Cheteshwar Pujara was clean bowled for just 13 by Tendai Chatara.
However, from then on it was smooth sailing as Rohit Sharma and Raina’s 122-run partnership, in which both players recorded their own half-centuries, ensured India got over the finish line with no more trouble whatsoever.
Sharma finished unbeaten on 64 off 90 balls, which included five boundaries and one six, while Raina finished undefeated on 65 off 71 deliveries, which included six boundaries.
Besides Chatara, none of the other Zimbabwe bowlers came near to getting another wicket.
Kohli was ecstatic to extend his side’s lead to 4-0 and praised his bowlers and batsmen for a job well done.
“Our bowlers did a great job and then Rohit and Raina finished it off well,” he said. “Jadeja is a good allrounder and he showed what he can do with the wickets and that run-out. Mohit was accurate form ball one which was pleasing to see as it was his first game. We are really proud of him. We want to end on a high and finish the series properly [5-0].”
Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor was once again frustrated with the fact that his side had crumbled under pressure.
“Pretty frustrating on a batting wicket,” he said. “We did all the hard work but couldn’t execute it there. We keep getting ourselves out and capitulating, it’s difficult to come back from that. We try and keep the morale up and fortunately there’s one more game. We’ve had our chances but couldn’t grab them.”
Mohit Sharma was named the Man of the Match on debut, and said: “I’m really glad and I thank the skipper and coach who gave me this chance. I just kept things simple and stuck to the basics. I’m looking forward to more games and hope I do well in the next match.”