Sunday July 19, 2015
Start time 1pm (11am, GMT)
Whatever rustiness India may have felt in their tour opener last weekend appears to have been well and truly shaken off. Their slick, measured performance in the first Twenty20 suggested they weren't exactly stretching themselves, and Zimbabwe will need to step up their game enormously if they are to bridge the yawning gulf in experience between the two sides in this format.
India charged to 178 on Friday on a pitch that wasn't entirely conducive to strokeplay, and a slightly less frenetic performance from Zimbabwe's bowlers could have helped them keep the visitors to a slightly more manageable total. The brevity of this format means that every delivery matters, and for Zimbabwe to gift India 25 extras was unforgivable. After Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha's steady start to the chase, the middle order wilted with a string of soft dismissals.
Their win on Friday made it 4-0 to India on the tour, and everything has gone to plan for them. In each match, someone has performed with both bat and ball, and they've also blooded a number of uncapped players. India are clear favourites and will also not want to blot their copybook with a slip-up in the final match.
Zimbabwe's inexperience in this format was clearly evidenced by their approach to the chase in the first game, in which their dot-ball percentage was 50%. Against tight bowling, on a pitch that didn't immediately lend itself to aggressive batting, they were found wanting and this will be a key area for them to improve upon.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
It's hard to believe now, but there was a time early in Hamilton Masakadza's career when he was considered too sedentary for limited-overs cricket. He's yet to make a real impact in this series though, and Zimbabwe need Mount Masakadza to erupt at the top of the order if they are to take the pressure off their middle order and challenge India.
Robin Uthappa's returns on this tour have been increasing with each outing, and though his innings in the first T20 match was less than explosive, it was the adhesive that held India's lower order together. Given his position at No. 3 and the fact that he seemed to come to terms with the pitch and conditions quickly, he may be the key player to bat through and set up another big total.
Zimbabwe's top six should be settled for the second match, although Craig Ervine is the sort of batsman who would probably be better utilised up the order. Offspinner John Nyumbu is the only man in the squad not to have played a game yet during India's visit, and given the slowness of the pitch, and his control as a bowler, he could be a good pick.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Chamu Chibhabha, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Elton Chigumbura (captain), 5 Charles Coventry (wk), 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Graeme Cremer, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Neville Madzia, 10 John Nyumbu, 11 Chris Mpofu.
Such was India's dominance in the first T20 that they will probably feel safe giving a chance to a sixth debutant in Sanju Samson, who came in for the injured Ambati Rayudu.
India (probable): 1 Ajinkya Rahane (captain), 2 M Vijay, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Kedar Jadhav/Sanju Samson, 6 Stuart Binny, 7 Harbhajan Singh, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Mohit Sharma, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Sandeep Sharma.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch being used for this game is the same one used in the second ODI, and though it will have had a week to recover from that match, one can expect it to behave sluggishly. While the Dukes ball has offered some movement through the air to the quicks throughout, the pitches have played slow and low in the afternoon, and Sunday should be no different. Expect another bright, sunny day.
Stats and trivia
- Hamilton Masakadza is Zimbabwe's leading runscorer in T20 internationals, with 943 runs, including seven fifties, in the format.
- India's 178 for 5 was the fourth highest T20I total scored at Harare Sports Club. At the top of the pile is Pakistan's 198 for 4 scored four years ago.
- Axar Patel is now India's leading wicket-taker on this tour, with eight scalps at an average of 17.13 in four matches across two formats.
"You're already basically cooked when you're coming in here, so you're ready for it."
With all the IPL cricket they've played, Robin Uthappa reckons the transition to the international level for India's T20I debutants is an easy one.
"Not many people will expect us to win, but if we go out there with the attitude that we have everything to gain I think we will come out with a victory." It's all about attitude for Zimbabwe, says Chris Mpofu.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town