Zimbabwe under pressure to show fight
Match factsSunday, July 28, 2013
Start time 0900 (0700 GMT)
Big PictureWhen India sent an inexperienced side to Zimbabwe for the second time in three years, there must have been a glimmer of hope that the hosts would seal a win or two, just like they did in the tri-series in 2010. Two games later, the series has lacked the competitiveness the home fans were expecting, as India proved themselves equally adept at defending and chasing targets. The toss was a factor on Friday, as India limped to 65 for 4, but then Zimbabwe had themselves to blame, dropping catches which released the stranglehold on the batsmen. Better fielding would have kept the target to something more achievable than 295. Zimbabwe had their moments in both innings where they stretched India, but matches are rarely won by teams that fumble in the field.
The biggest positive for India was that they managed to weather the storm after a top-order collapse. Shikhar Dhawan, dropped twice and caught off a no-ball, made the most of those lapses and had an equally positive partner in Dinesh Karthik to take India to a winning total. Batting first in seaming conditions - aided by two new balls - may not have been the worst thing to happen for India, for it was an education for the top order, which will face tougher examinations for prolonged periods in South Africa later on.
The positive for Zimbabwe was that they batted out 50 overs, instead of surrendering meekly. At 133 for 6, a humiliation loomed, before Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya showed some resistance. Aside from the dropped catches, the no-show from the middle order was another concern. Zimbabwe are one defeat away from conceding the series. Unless they put one across India on Sunday, this series may fade from memory faster than it normally would, given its lack of context in a packed calendar.
Form guideIndia WWWWW (most recent first, last five completed games)
In the spotlightThough Suresh Raina came in to bat with India moments from victory in the first game, he had an opportunity in the second to build an innings but failed to step up as the senior. He was caught tickling one down the leg side for 4, leaving India in trouble at 69 for 4. His ODI average outside the subcontinent is 25.82 with two fifties, a climbdown from his overall figures of 35.69. The seamers will look to target his weakness against the short ball.
One of Vusi Sibanda's biggest problems has been his consistency, but in the last six games, he has delivered better, with a century and two fifties at an average of 66.60. Had he batted through the bulk of the innings on Friday, Zimbabwe would have been in with a fighting chance. His dismissal in the 21st over, caught at midwicket, was untimely.
Team newsCheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohit Sharma and Parvez Rasool are yet to get a game, but it's uncertain if India will change its winning combination yet.
India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Vinay Kumar, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Mohammed Shami
Ray Price is in the squad and Zimbabwe could use his experience as the second spinner.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Sikandar Raza, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Sean Williams, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Brian Vitori, 10 and 11 Kyle Jarvis/Tendai Chatara/Ray Price
Stats and trivia
- India have recorded the most ODI wins (42) among all countries since the start of the 2011 World Cup. Zimbabwe have eight
- Rohit Sharma averages 56.20 in ODIs in Zimbabwe, with two centuries
Quotes"What's quite frustrating is we should be learning from the opposition. We look at guys like Kohli bat, they don't play too many rash shots, they just keep it simple and we should be learning from that. We're not, and we've got to start doing that, otherwise we're going to find it difficult."
Zimbabwe coach Andy Waller is keen on this series being a rich learning experience
"You need a lot of match practice - that's what I feel. That way you learn how to take the pressure and how to play in different situations. I feel that works for us."
Shikhar Dhawan has some advice for Zimbabwe
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo