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IND v ZIM: Shubman Gill stars as India win by 13 runs; secure 3-0 series sweep

When India reached 289-8 thanks to Gill’s outstanding 130 off 97 balls, which included 15 fours and a six, Zimbabwe was out of time in the run chase at 169-7.

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Sikandar Raza’s valiant sixth ODI century was overshadowed by Shubman Gill’s debut ODI hundred as India came back to win the third and final ODI by 13 runs and sweep the series against Zimbabwe 3-0 on Monday.

When India reached 289-8 thanks to Gill’s outstanding 130 off 97 balls, which included 15 fours and a six, Zimbabwe was out of time in the run chase at 169-7. When Raza entered the field, Zimbabwe was on the approach of a significant victory thanks to his 115 off 95 balls, which included nine fours and three sixes.

A noisy home crowd applauded them on as Raza and Brad Evans (28), who had earlier claimed his first five-for in ODI cricket with 5-54 in ten overs, added 104 runs together off 79 balls.

India narrowly defeated Zimbabwe by taking the final three wickets, including Evans and Raza in back-to-back overs, with 33 needed off the final three overs. Avesh Khan grabbed 3/66 for the visitors, while Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, and Deepak Chahar each took two wickets, and Shardul Thakur had a wicket to his name.

From the 17th over, Raza entered the crease and took some time to settle in before hitting Patel for two fours. He was fortunate to escape an appeal for lbw and afterwards a stumping opportunity from Kuldeep. Chahar was hit for a six by Raza over deep mid-wicket as he joined the attack. After that, he depended on strike rotation until he hit three fours, including one on a no-ball and another on a free hit, to score 20 runs against Thakur in the 39th over.

Raza dispatched Chahar for a flat inside-out six over extra cover when 95 needed off the final 10 overs from Avesh. To keep Zimbabwe in the run-chase, Raza hit his third century in the previous six games with a single through cover off Thakur. He continued to capture Avesh for four and six more as a renowned victory for Zimbabwe grew closer.

With a slower ball, Avesh made a comeback by lbw-trapping Evans. The decisive blow was given by Thakur when he had Raza caught for 115 in the following over. Gill timed his advanced dive at long-on perfectly to make a low catch. Avesh then delivered a yorker to rattle Nyauchi’s stumps to secure India’s victory.

Chahar gave India its first major victory by lbw-trapping innocent Kaia after being granted the right to have the review judgement changed. After getting a top-edge for six off Avesh, Takudzwanashe Kaitano immediately walked off the field due to a problem with his left leg.

Williams and Tony Munyonga put Zimbabwe on the right track with a 46-run partnership for the second wicket before the former was caught lbw by Patel off a quick ball that was maintained low. Munyonga misplayed Avesh’s delivery to mid-off in the following over, costing Zimbabwe two wickets in as many balls.

As Kaitano was easily stumped by Kuldeep Yadav, Patel then took a brilliant catch off his own bowling to eliminate skipper Regis Chakabva. Zimbabwe required 141 runs from 17 overs at the end of the 33rd over, when Ryan Burl dropped after heaving off Chahar straight to mid-on. Raza led the pursuit alone, first with Jongwe and later Evans, but his efforts were in vain.

Earlier, the opening stand of 64 runs was scored by captain KL Rahul and his stand-in Shikhar Dhawan. Following their departure, Gill and Ishan Kishan (50 off 64 balls, 6 fours) added 140 runs for the third wicket, giving India a respectable total on an old field. Then, in the final ten overs, Zimbabwe retreated, scooping up six wickets while giving up 79 runs.

Gill displayed timing and placement in his shots throughout his 97-ball stint at the crease, starting with his first boundary, an exquisite straight drive down the ground with full face of the bat off Evans.

Gill was head and shoulders above everyone on a pitch where other batters took some time to become comfortable, as evidenced by his delight after scoring his first ODI hundred off just 82 balls.

His drives looked both strong and beautiful as he frequently threaded through the opening at cover. He even used his favourite short-arm jabs, scoops, and sweeps to stand out as India’s best batter during their innings. He surpassed Sachin Tendulkar’s unbroken 127 in 1998 at Bulawayo to become the highest ODI score by an Indian hitter in Zimbabwe while remaining controlled, serene, and in complete control.

As a result of Gill’s composed performance, Kishan easily cleared leg-side boundaries to score his second ODI fifty. The pair needed 62 deliveries to establish their 50-run partnership and only 101 deliveries to reach their century stand.

When it appeared that India would reach 300, Deepak Hooda and Kishan both promptly collapsed. After achieving his century, Sanju Samson and Gill blasted some enormous boundaries before the latter perfectly picked up a deep square leg.

Gill made two more fours after Patel cheaply fell to increase the scoring rate. His bottom hand, however, took off in an attempt to loft off Evans, but it was snagged at far off. Evans caught Thakur at cover after tricking him with a slower ball as 33 runs came off the final four overs to complete his first five-for in ODIs.

(Inputs from IANS)