3rd T20I: Gill, Gaikwad & Washington star as India beat Zimbabwe by 23 runs; go 2-1 up (ld)

Harare, July 10 (IANS) Captain Shubman Gill top-scored with a 49-ball 66, Ruturaj Gaikwad hit a quick 28-ball 49 and all-rounder Washington Sundar was smart in lengths to pick an economical 3-15 as India survived a fighting effort from Dion Myers to beat Zimbabwe by 23 runs in third T20I and take a 2-1 series lead at the Harare Sports Club here on Wednesday.

On a two-paced pitch, a breezy Yashasvi Jaiswal and Gill had a 67-run opening stand, before Zimbabwe enforced a slowdown in the middle overs. Gill and Gaikwad joined forces for a 72-run partnership off 44 balls for the third wicket, which ensured India got past 180. They were also helped by the hosts’ fielding being absolutely sloppy and dropping multiple catches.

In reply, Zimbabwe were reduced to 39/5, before Myers and Clive Madande had a 77-run sixth-wicket stand to keep Zimbabwe in the hunt. Myers went on to be unbeaten on 65 off 49 balls, but it ended in vain as Zimbabwe could only make 159/6 in 20 overs. Apart from Sundar’s three-fer, Avesh Khan picked 2-39, while Khaleel Ahmed was excellent in his 1-15.

India made four changes to their playing XI, with T20 World Cup winners Shivam Dube, Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Sanju Samson coming back into the team. It meant Jaiswal opened the batting, with Abhishek Sharma going one-down and Gaikwad pushed down to number four.

Electing to bat first, Jaiswal had India off to a flying start as he was swiveling, dabbing, and heaving Brian Bennet for six and two fours in a 15-run opening over. Gill got off the mark with a great flick off the wrists going for four against Richard Ngarava, before pulling and driving him for a six and four respectively, as the second over yielded 14 runs.

Runs continued to flow for India, especially with Zimbabwe’s fielding being pedestrian, as Jaiswal pulled Tendai Chatara for a four and six respectively, before Gill punched and got an outside edge off Blessing Muzarabani for two fours in the fourth over.

After India crossed its 50-run stand in 4.1 overs, Zimbabwe enforced a slowdown and even got Jaiswal out, only if Marumani at sweeper cover held on to the chance off Chatara, which went for four. Jaiswal eventually fell for 36 in the ninth over when he shaped to play a reverse sweep off Sikandar Raza but ended up giving a catch to backward point.

Raza struck again when Abhishek Sharma heaved, but holed out to deep mid-wicket in the eleventh over. Gill stepped down the pitch twice to hit boundaries, before getting an outside edge on the cut off Chatara for four to get his fifty in 36 balls, the first time he made a half-century as an Indian captain.

Gaikwad cut loose by slamming a six and two fours in his first 10 balls. The duo hit a six each off Raza’s overpitched balls in the 17th over, before Gill mistimed a loft to mid-off against Muzarabani in the next over.

Gaikwad dispatched full tosses from Ngarava for boundaries, before holing out to deep cover in the final over. It took a last-ball boundary from Sanju Samson to take India past the 180-run mark, as he remained unbeaten on 12.

India had early success in their defence of 182 as Avesh had Wesley Madhevere cut tamely to short cover. Khaleel struck when Tadiwanashe Marumani looked to hit on the up but mistimed to mid-on. Bennett went for a cut off Avesh, but Ravi Bishnoi timed his jump well to complete a stunning catch at backward point.

Raza tried to fight back by hitting three boundaries, but Washington had him slow sweeping to deep mid-wicket in the seventh over. The off-spinner struck again in the same over by enticing Johnathan Campbell to drive and the outside edge was snapped by first slip.

Madande and Myers feasted on width and friendly lengths from part-timers Abhishek and Shivam Dube, as well as off Bishnoi to hit nine boundaries in their scintillating 77-run stand for the sixth wicket. Washington came back to break the partnership by floating a wide delivery, for which Madande tried to move across and slog-sweep but holed out to deep mid-wicket.

Myers went on to get his maiden T20I fifty by clearing his front leg and tonking Bishnoi for six. He and Wellington Masakadza hit some boundaries in the final over off Avesh yielding 18 runs, but the late flourish wasn’t enough for Zimbabwe to avoid a defeat to India.

Brief scores:

India 182/4 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 66, Ruturaj Gaikwad 49; Sikandar Raza 2-24, Blessing Muzarabani 2-25) beat Zimbabwe 159/6 in 20 overs (Dion Myers 65 not out, Clive Madande 37; Washington Sundar 3-15, Avesh Khan 2-39) by 23 runs



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