Kohli leads India to victory, clinches maiden series as captain
India continued their winning momentum as they registered victory against Zimbabwe in the 3rd ODI of the Celkon Mobile Cup by 7 wickets at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday. The Men in Blue have taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in this 5-match series. After bundling out the hosts for a meager 183 in 46 overs thanks to Amit Mishra’s four-wicket haul, skipper Virat Kohli took his team comfortably home with his 24th ODI fifty.
Earlier, India won the toss and elected to bowl, opting to field the same winning combination. Zimbabwe handed Michael Chinouya his ODI debut, in place of Kyle Jarvis. The Zimbabwe openers were off to a shaky start, losing Vusi Sibanda (0) who was dismissed by Vinay Kumar in the very first over of the innings. The in-form Sikandar Raza (1) followed suit as Mohammad Shami had him caught behind in the third over. However, skipper Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza steadied the ship with a 65-run partnership for the third wicket, until Taylor (23) fell to Jaydev Unadkat. Masakadza (38) departed soon followed by Malcolm Waller, who was dismissed on a first-ball duck by Amit Mishra. At this stage, Zimbabwe were reeling at 80/5 in the 20th over.
Elton Chigumbura (3) couldn’t hold on either and was trapped LBW by Ravindra Jadeja. Prosper Utseya (10) and Sean Williams (45) added some vital runs for the 7th wicket, before Utseya was caught behind. Williams was run-out before he could reach his fifty and the hosts seemed like they were in deep trouble. Towards the end, Brian Vitori (17) and Tandai Chatara (23) added 34 crucial runs for the 9th wicket, taking Zimbabwe to an unexpected total of 183. Amit Mishra stomped his authority with dominating figures of 4 for 47, while Unadkat and Vinay Kumar bagged wickets apiece.
Chasing a relatively easy target of 184, the Indian openers started cautiously. Rohit Sharma (14) was the first wicket to fall, handing newcomer Chinouya his maiden ODI wicket. Shikhar Dhawan (35) was off to a flyer but soon holed out to Sibanda off Chatara's bowling and India were 67/2 in the 15th over. Once again, it was captain Virat Kohli who continued to shine with the bat as he smashed an unbeaten 68 to guide India home, in partnership with Ambati Rayudu (33) and Suresh Raina (28*). The chase was over in just inside 36 overs, as the Indian batsmen went for the kill towards the end.
As a result of this comprehensive win, India are now 3-0 up in the series, which means Zimbabwe will go into the next two dead rubbers to salvage their pride, while for India it could be mean giving an opportunity to other talented cricketers waiting in the wings.
The fourth ODI between India and Zimbabwe will be played on August 1st at Bulawayo.