IF Zimbabwe had a time machine, they would rewind to Saturday, June 18, 2016. Amid the adversity of non-engaged spectators and their prior 3-0 thrashing in the ODI series, Neville Madziva gave Zimbabwe’s supporters a reason for song and dance.
Even interim coach Makhaya Ntini couldn’t stop himself from busting out a celebratory jig after his side won the first T20I of the three-match series.
Two days later, Zimbabwe slumped to their fourth collapse in five limited-overs matches against India this month.
To “compete with the big boys” in the series decider on Wednesday, Zimbabwe will have to strive for positive consistency, at least in performance if not results.
Despite India’s ten-wicket victory in the second T20I, the hosts have a compelling opportunity – they are yet to win a T20I series of two or more matches.
All to play for then? India wouldn’t mind finding themselves in such a situation.
“It is a good learning curve for the youngsters, providing they’re learning out of it.
“When some of these players play for India consistently, they will feel the pressure and that is where a game or tour like this will help,” MS Dhoni said at the post-match conference after the first T20 which India lost by two runs.
On the only occasion India have been challenged on this tour, the batsmen failed to chase.
After India handed five caps in the first T20I, they handed two more to Barinder Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni and both bowlers set the tone for the side’s largest win in the format.
In the process, India adopted arguably their best bowling combination in this squad. India’s settled batting line-up meant Zimbabwe had to find another day and another way to get through them.
Will Wednesday be different?
Zimbabwe: LWLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
With the bat, Sikandar Raza has propelled Zimbabwe’s innings on numerous occasions with an intent that forces bowlers to fiddle with their lengths. In his last 12 T20Is, however, he has scored 92 runs at an average of 7.66, with a highest of 20. A significant contribution could go a long way towards setting Zimbabwe up for a grandstand finish.
India’s seamers Barinder Sran, Dhawal Kulkarni and Jasprit Bumrah claimed combined figures of 8 for 53 in 12 overs on Monday. A discernible pattern – swinging the newer ball followed by a variety of slower offcutters and wide yorkers towards the end – left Zimbabwe defenceless.Advertisement
Richmond Mutumbami’s hip injury meant Peter Moor came into Zimbabwe’s XI as designated wicketkeeper for the second match. He top-scored with 31. The management could contemplate dropping allrounder Tinotenda Mutombodzi, who has scores of 3 and 0 in this series.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Chamu Chibhabha, 3 Peter Moor, 4 Sikandar Raza, 5 Malcolm Waller (wk), 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Tinotenda Mutombodzi/Timycen Maruma, 8 Graeme Cremer (capt), 9 Neville Madziva, 10 Taurai Muzarabani, 11 Donald Tiripano
With the series on the line, India are unlikely to tinker with their winning combination.
India (probable): 1 KL Rahul, 2 Mandeep Singh, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 Dhawal Kulkarni, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Barinder Sran