Harare, July 13: An unassailable lead taken, India will look to complete the formalities and assert their supremacy by completing a whitewash when they take on Zimbabwe in the third and final cricket one-dayer here tomorrow (July 14). (Samson replaces Rayudu)
After a scratchy four-run victory in the opening game, India got their act together to thrash the hosts by 62 runs in the second game, riding on a solid all-round performance.
The areas which seemed like cause of concern after the opening game were addressed quite well by the Indians in the second match.
The entire top-order came good after a disappointing show in the first match. Skipper Ajinkya Rahane (63), opener Murali Vijay (72) and Ambati Rayudu (41) laid the foundation for a
good score. For Vijay, rated more of a Test batsman, it was his maiden fifty in his 16th ODI.
But in a setback for India, the in-form Rayudu has been ruled out of the tour after picking quadricep injury which would require 2-3 weeks of rehabilitation and Sanju Samson has been named as his replacement.
But Manish Pandey could be the one making his ODI debut tomorrow as Samson is unliekly to reach here in time for the match.
After the batsmen came good, the bowlers performed well too to outwit the sprightly Zimbabweans. In fact, after a rather pedestrian effort in the first game, the bowlers came back strongly to exploit the conditions well.
Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the pick of the lot as he snared four scalps and senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also bowled with discipline to return fine figures of 1/29 in his 10 overs.
And India would be looking for a similarly clinical performance to wrap up the short series before the couple of Twenty20 International scheduled immediately after.
For Zimbabwe, the side would look to rediscover the spark it showed in the first game. On the up side, the home bowlers have not allowed Indian batsmen to score all that freely but have failed to maintain the pressure consistently.
On the batting front, opener Chamu Chibhabha was the lone noteworthy contributor in the chase. The hosts need more than one batsman to come good against the visitors.
Skipper Elton Chigumbura, who scored a hundred in the first match, needs to be more consistent and would have to play a crucial role if Zimbabwe are to avoid a complete rout.
Chigumbura has already expressed his displeasure with the batting effort in both the matches so far and it remains to be seen whether the willow-wielders respond to their captain's criticism positively.
Given the mismatch in terms of talent, India seem to be coasting towards a whitewash but Zimbabwe could well spring a surprise as they would be playing to salvage some pride.
India: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Robin Uthappa (wicketkeeper), Murali Vijay, Stuart Binny, Manoj Tiwary, Harbhajan Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Sandeep Sharma, Sanju Samson and Mohit Sharma.
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Regis Chakabva (wicketkeeper), Chamu Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami (wicketkeeper), Tinashe Panyangara, , Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller and Sean Williams.
Match starts at 12.30 PM IST
2-match T20I series starts on July 17