The T20 series too comes to an end. The first and third T20s were last ball thrillers, whereas the second was a completely different affair.
Zimbabwe pipped India in the first T20. Batting first Zim got 170 thanks to Chigumbura’s late heroics, a 26 ball 54. This was a tricky total and guess what! Rahul got a golden duck. Pandey made a patient 48 but couldn’t finish the job. Then came Dhoni The Finisher and like always started slowly and took the match in the last over where they needed 8 runs. Then like a messiah came Neville Madziva who bowled with great control and equation read 4 off the last ball with Dhoni on strike. Dhoni would have backed himself to hit a boundary but Madziva bowled a wide yorker and Dhoni couldn’t do much expect hitting it for a single and the celebrations began. The fans rejoiced and the fun started. Can’t call it an upset because in T20 International you never quite know how is it going to end.
In the 2nd match, Zim again batted first. This time around they could manage only 99 runs. Barinder Sran cleaned up the top order and reduced Zim to 28 for 4 in the 5th over. Sran finished with figures of 10 for 4 thus becoming the best figures for a debutant for Ind in T20s. Bumrah too got 11 for 3. India chased the target in 13 overs with Mandeep making a fine 52.
The 3rd Match, The decider. India, for the first time, on the tour batted first. They started poorly losing three early wickets including the runout of Mandeep for 0. Kedar Jadhav steadied and pushed the Indian innings forward with a half century and got India to 138. Zimbabwe would have thought of one long inning and win it. Zim started well , their batsmen got decent starts but none of them could convert it into a big knock. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals as Bumrah, Kulkarni and Axar bowled tight lines. The match came down to 22 needed off the last over. Sran was given the not so difficult task of defending it. Sran started wildly by giving a six and a no balled four on the first two balls. Maruma the batsman did the damage and reduced the equation to 11 off 4 balls. Sran then got his yorkers right and again 4 were needed off the last ball. Sran bowled a low full toss which Chigumbura could only scoop straight to Chahal at point. Zim fought hard but India prevailed thus winning the series. Sran also received the Man of the series award.
Overall, it was a good series for India, as many young players got a chance to play. And the series made me realise that Tier-2 series like these (No disrespect to Zimbabwe) are as important as any other major series, especially for the young players and for the future of Indian cricket.