Rahane dismisses chasing troubles
India's batsmen came up short the first time they were asked to bat second on the tour. They had been comfortably placed at 58 for 1 after the Powerplay chasing a target of 146, but then suffered a middle-order collapse that they could not recover from and lost to Zimbabwe by 10 runs. Captain Ajinkya Rahane accepted that they didn't bat well, but said chasing "wasn't an issue"
"Robin and Vijay were batting really well," he said. "We were 58 for 1 after six overs, but after that we lost three or four wickets continuously and from there the pressure built on us. We couldn't build that one partnership to get us through. We were quite comfortable chasing - we needed a run a ball after six overs. We accept that we didn't bat well."
Rahane also paid credit to the hosts, who went about the defence of their total with energy and determination. "We have to give credit to Zimbabwe because I feel they played really well today," he said. "Throughout the series they played well. But today their bowling and fielding were really up to the mark. Their energy was pretty good, but I felt their spinners bowled in the right areas. They got two good run-outs and they took a couple of good catches.
''Overall I'm happy with the type of cricket we played, but disappointed with the loss. We lost three or four wickets continuously so the pressure really built on us. I thought the bowlers did pretty well, and 145 was chaseable."
As a batsman, Rahane has got regular starts at the top of the order in this series and made a half-century in the second ODI, but was run out for single-figures for the first time today. Zimbabwe took that opening, kept the pressure up and eventually secured an important victory.
"I don't want to talk about that, but I'm disappointed," Rahane said of his dismissal. "Maybe at the start of your innings no team wants your opener to get run out because momentum shifts to the opposition. But having said that we got a good partnership with Robin and Vijay and then lost wickets. I'm disappointed I got run out but more disappointed we lost.
"We are disappointed with this loss but you have to appreciate our boys as well. They have played some good cricket throughout the tour. In a T20 anything can happen. Zimbabwe took wickets continuously and fielded well also. You have to give credit to them. Their batting was good but their bowling and fielding was exceptional."
India were without Harbhajan Singh for the first time on their tour today, rested in order to give Sanju Samson a debut. "He's an experienced bowler and we all know that he's a match winner for us, but we wanted to give Sanju an opportunity here," Rahane explained. "Bhajju bhai did pretty well for us and is an experienced bowler, but Sanju has done pretty well back home in the IPL and in the domestic season, so we wanted to give an opportunity.
"[All in all] guys played pretty well [on this tour]. We got two hundreds - Rayudu and Jadhav - and Vijay and me got fifties. But still we have to improve as a batting unit. Guys have to lift their game here. There's always a good thing when there's healthy competition [for places] so we enjoy that. I'm sure this will get Indian cricket better day by day."
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town