Raina leads India to series sweep
Suresh Raina and M Vijay made light work of Zimbabwe's second-highest total in Twenty20 internationals, smacking five sixes and eight fours between them to set up a seven-wicket win, and with that the 2-0 sweep of the Twenty20 series. Sweeps and reverse-sweeps from Tatenda Taibu and a late cameo from Charles Coventry took Zimbabwe to their mildly competitive total, but it could be argued they lost the match in their Powerplay that went for only 21 runs.
After paying for too many strokes too early in the first match, Zimbabwe erred on the side of caution in the second. There were 48 dot balls in the innings, five of them because Hamilton Masakadza shouldered arms to the first six deliveries he faced, one of them a wide. He was out to the first aggressive shot he played, hitting straight down mid-off's throat. Brendan Taylor and Chamu Chibhabha didn't try any big shots off the seamers, and Chibhabha fell to an expansive slog-sweep in the sixth over, bowled by Pragyan Ojha.
By the time Taylor, who struggled to get singles in his 31-ball 26, got out to a superb catch on the long-off boundary by Yusuf Pathan, Zimbabwe had reached only 64 in the 13th over. Taibu, though, was playing a different game: sweeping, reverse-sweeping, running fast, hitting the spinners off their lengths. He may have hit only two boundaries - a sweep of each variety - but had raced to 25 off 18 when Taylor got out. Coventry came out and made one wonder just why the top order batted so slowly. He reverse-swept R Ashwin for two boundaries in the 16th over, and between those two hits fit an exquisite six over extra cover. Vinay offered him length in the next over, and Coventry got another six.
Dinda removed Coventry with a perfect yorker in the 18th over, for a 13-ball 28. Elton Chigumbura played a mini cameo, looting Ashwin in the penultimate over for six, six and four, but Suresh Raina took a blinder running from midwicket towards deep midwicket to control the damage.
Raina was in damage-inflicting mood when he came in to bat, with 32 runs up in five overs. Vijay had by then - not entire convincingly - converted a slow start into an acceptable one. He kept clearing his leg and swinging, he missed a couple, but the ones he connected travelled. Raina's method involved fewer risks. He kept targeting midwicket and extra cover, and connected well on most occasions.
Raina wasted little time, and punched the third ball he faced past extra cover for four. It was all India after that. Vijay hit two massive sixes, Raina responded with a four and a six over midwicket, and India had reached 89 in 12 overs. Two boundaries either side of square leg in Ray Price's 14th over, and Raina had caught up with Vijay in quick time.
Vijay fell four short of fifty, but Raina kept timing them beautifully. The six that brought up his half century, a low full toss hit over long-off, was effortless, and brought the equation down to 23 off 29, putting the matter beyond any reasonable doubt.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo