Brendan Taylor's torrid run
Zimbabwe haven't had the best of luck in this series. Brendan Taylor has lost four tosses out of five, and having to bat first in tricky conditions has brought out the worst in the local batsmen. Hamilton Masakadza, though, enjoyed two slices of good fortune in one over from Jaydev Unadkat early on this morning. Umpire Owen Chirombe gave Masakadza the benefit of the doubt on a very tight lbw call, the ball having pitched in line with leg stump and struck the batsman on the back pad. Three balls later, Masakadza swished at one going across him and the Indians went up in unison as there appeared to have been a clear sound as ball passed bat on the way through to Dinesh Karthik. Again, however, Masakadza was given not out. Virat Kohli wandered up to the batsman to voice his displeasure, but Masakadza couldn't make his let-off count. Eight overs later, he chopped a cut off Ravindra Jadeja onto his own stumps to depart for 32.
Taylor's misfortune at the toss appears to have spread to his batting. The Zimbabwe captain, possibly the team's best batsman, waded through 10 runless deliveries before aiming a flat-footed drive at the 11th only to edge to slip and depart for a duck. Having also failed to score in the previous game and in the second ODI in Harare, Taylor's run-tally for the series stands at just 35 and his own poor form has exacerbated Zimbabwe's problems.
Taylor's day got even worse when he fluffed what should have been a simple run-out chance. In the seventh over, Ajinkya Rahane nudged a length delivery from Kyle Jarvis towards mid-on and set off for a single. Dhawan, however, wasn't the slightest bit interested and both batsmen ended up at the same end. The ball was hurled towards Taylor in good time, but in his enthusiasm he dived forward and smashed the stumps empty handed. While Taylor hung his head in disappointment, Rahane would have been mighty relieved with the let-off. An early dismissal in something of an audition match might have proved quite a setback to a budding international career that hasn't quite kicked off yet. Instead, he was allowed to compile a neat fifty.
Portly, balding and short, Amit Mishra doesn't immediately strike one as a record-breaker. Yet, with 18 wickets on this tour, he's equalled Javagal Srinath's record for the most dismissals in a bi-lateral series. The record should now, perhaps, actually belong to Mishra, as while Srinath achieved the feat in seven games against New Zealand in 2002-03 the legspinner has needed just five. It was fitting that Mishra took his sixth and final wicket with a googly that found Brian Vitori's outside edge - most of his wickets have come via the variation that Zimbabwe apparently find unreadable. With a record and a career-best haul in the bag, it's not a day that he'll quickly forget.
It's often said that Zimbabwe's strongest ever team was the one which plied its trade in the late 90s, and that their strongest suit was their fielding. Given the number of chances that have gone begging in this series, and the two that were missed in this match alone, one might argue that fielding is one area where Zimbabwe have really let things slip. Yet, a member of that 'glory years' team, Bryan Strang, turned up to watch this match and even he couldn't hold a catch today. Sitting under the trees on the Western side of the ground, Strang watched a six sail off Shikhar Dhawan's bat, rushed forward in an attempt to get to the chance, but couldn't quite get to it.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town