By Leslie Xavier
It’s winter in Zimbabwe, and, in the mornings, the pitch at the Harare Sports Club is quite a handful. The ball does a bit in the opening hour of play and the side winning the toss prefers to bowl. India skipper Virat Kohli won the toss on Sunday, July 28, and sent the hosts in to bat in the third one-dayer of the five match series. Six hours later, India had sealed the series with an emphatic seven wickets victory. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 183 in 46 overs while the visitors, led by Kohli’s half century, sailed home in 35.3 overs.
Of course, it is easy to sympathise with the Brendan Taylor-led Zimbabwean side and their bad luck with the toss on a must-win game. But the hosts’ loss can’t just be blamed on the toss or a hostile pitch. Their batsmen neither showed the temperament to fight__like they showed in the opening two matches__nor displayed the patience to stick around till the conditions became better.
Skipper Taylor was the first to point that out in the post-match press conference: “We lack the experience, and we are playing the World Champions. We are learning things but we were disheartened after our loss in the second match which we could have won if we had not made mistakes on the field. And it showed today. Technique wise as well as temperament wise, we fell short today.”
The young Indian side led by Kohli was not tested at all as they strolled to victory. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra won the Man of the Match award after capturing four wickets, liberally using his variations right through the spell. The Zimbabwean batsmen had trouble with all the Indian bowlers–Mohammed Shami took two wickets while Vinay Kumar, J.D. Unadkat and Ravindra Jadeja too one each. But Zimbabweans were particular prone to Mishra’s lofted deliveries.
“I have been working hard on my variations and I am happy I could use it effectively today,” said Mishra after the match. “My coaches always encourage me to go for wickets and today I went all out without worrying about runs.”
The series now shifts to Bulawayo for the final two matches.