India 289 for 8 (Gill 130, Kishan 50, Evans 5-54) beat Zimbabwe 276 (Raza 115, Williams 45, Avesh 3-66) by 13 runs
A classy maiden ODI century and a stunning catch in the penultimate over of a tense chase from Shubman Gill gave India a thrilling 13-run win to complete a 3-0 whitewash after Sikandar Raza‘s fighting hundred had brought the hosts back from the dead.
From 169 for 7 in a chase of 290, Raza’s knock brought Zimbabwe to a point where they needed 15 to win from nine balls. But Raza, having already struck three sixes in reaching 115 off 94 balls, swung a slower ball from Shardul Thakur down the ground and was caught by Gill diving forward from long-on.
It came down to 15 needed off the last over with just one wicket left, and Avesh Khan bowled Victor Nyauchi with a searing yorker that put the seal on India’s 3-0 scoreline.
Raza led Zimbabwe’s charge almost singlehandedly from the 18th over on, scoring his third century in six innings and his sixth overall in ODIs even as wickets fell around him. Zimbabwe needed 95 from the last 10 with only three wickets left and Raza and the steadfast Brad Evans brought it down to 52 off 30.
Raza then hit a six over the covers to begin a 12-run 46th over, and brought up his century in the next over as Zimbabwe inched closer. Thakur conceded just seven off the 47th over with his slower ones to make it 33 off 18. When Raza got strike in the next over, he scooped Avesh wide of short fine leg for four, and then clobbered him over the covers for another six next ball. An inside edge off Evans’ bat then ran away for four to lift Zimbabwe’s hopes further, bringing the equation down to 17 off 13. Avesh trapped Evans lbw next ball to leave Zimbabwe’s hopes resting entirely on Raza, but his wicket in the next over all but sealed the game for India.
Zimbabwe’s top-order show improved only slightly after the first two ODIs, with Sean Williams promoted to No. 3 after Deepak Chahar trapped Innocent Kaia with an inswinging yorker that followed a series of outswingers. Their problems were compounded when Takudzwanashe Kaitano walked off with what appeared to be a cramp in the sixth over and Tony Munyonga struggled to get going. Williams, however, struck three fours in his first nine balls, the best of them a decisive pull off Chahar. Singles and twos came more easily once the field spread, before Williams and Munyonga fell in successive overs. Axar Patel first trapped Williams plumb with a dart for 45, before Munyonga mistimed a lofted drive to wide mid-off off Avesh to leave Zimbabwe 84 for 3.
Raza and Regis Chakabva moved them past 100 before Axar struck again, just past the halfway mark of the chase, taking a sharp return catch to his left to send back Chakabva. The returning Kaitano was then stumped off Kuldeep Yadav seven balls later to leave the chase on Raza’s shoulders with the asking rate having crept past 7.5. Raza decided to see off the two spinners and went after the quicks as conditions remained batting-friendly.
He began Chahar’s second spell with a mighty six over midwicket and got a thick edge for four three balls later. After he crossed his half-century, he went after Thakur and Avesh. When Zimbabwe needed 115 from 12 overs, he hit three successive fours off Thakur in a 20-run over, before he and Evans collected a four each in the 41st, bowled by Avesh, to bring the equation down to 79 off 54. Raza and Evans put on 104 off 77, with Evans contributing just 28, but once India broke the partnership, there was not much batting to come.
Earlier, Gill’s stroke-filled 130 off 97 balls gave them a competitive score even as Evans finished with a maiden five-for. KL Rahul opted to bat in “challenging” conditions early on, but himself looked scratchy before chopping on for 30 off Evans. Dhawan started the India innings with three fours in his first 10 balls, but Zimbabwe replied with tight bowling thereon. Dhawan got a life on 17 when he was dropped at point off Richard Ngarava, but he couldn’t capitalise, and handed a leading edge to cover for 40.
It was all Gill after that. He walked in when India were going at just over four an over looked a class apart with his control and ability to score briskly. He timed the ball crisply, drove with confidence, and kept the score ticking even as Ishan Kishan took his time to ease himself in, getting a life when he was on 6 off 17 balls when Williams dropped a return catch in the 27th over. Kishan broke the shackles by slog-sweeping and lofting Raza for two fours in the 32nd over, before Gill collected two more against Williams.
The duo accelerated after Gill reached a 51-ball half-century in the 34th over, taking 33 off the next three overs and bringing up their century stand soon after. But just as Gill raced towards his century and Kishan brought up his second ODI fifty, off 61 balls, Zimbabwe began to hit back. Gill survived a close lbw appeal on 97 off Evans in the 43rd over, and a review showed he had got a thick edge, but Zimbabwe still got a wicket off that ball, with Kishan run out when Munyonga swooped in from point and threw the stumps down at the non-striker’s end. Evans’ offcutter then bowled Deepak Hooda for 1 five balls later, but Gill was unfazed.
He bowed down towards the dressing room to celebrate his century, off just 82 balls, off the next ball and continued to unleash his booming drives and pulls. He got a life in an eventful 46th over, when he was dropped at short fine leg on 110, after which Sanju Samson hit two successive sixes before holing out to deep square leg.
Zimbabwe fought back in the last two overs, mainly thanks to Evans. In the last over he had Gill caught at long-off for 130 and Thakur miscuing a slower ball to mid-off while giving away only seven more, and finished with his maiden ODI five-for, which his father and former Zimbabwe allrounder Craig Evans applauded from the stands.