BULAWAYO: India on Saturday created history by recording their first-ever five-match ODI series whitewash on foreign soil as they thrashed Zimbabwe by seven wickets in the fifth and final one-dayer, riding on leg-spinner Amit Mishra’s career-best six-wicket haul.
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Mishra’s fine effort of 6 for 48 saw India bowl out Zimbabwe for a paltry 163 in 39.5 overs after opting to bowl and the visitors then chased down the small target comfortably with 16 overs to spare at Queens Sports Club.
The leg-spinner also equalled the world record for most wickets in a bilateral ODI series. He took his series tally to 18, equalling the record held by compatriot Javagal Srinath.
India have recorded three 5-0 series wins at home in the past five years — whitewashing England twice and New Zealand once. But, this was their maiden whitewash win in a five-match series away from home.
Ajinkya Rahane, who was playing in his first match of the series, top-scored with a 66-ball 50, his third ODI fifty in his 17th match, with the help of four boundaries and a six. He shared a crucial 71-run partnership for the third wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (not out 48 from 77 balls) to lay the foundation for the win.
Jadeja ended the contest in style by hitting a six as India reached 167 for three in 34 overs.
The victory target was too small for the rampaging Indians, who have recorded convincing wins over the home side in all the five matches.
The young Indian side under Virat Kohli, who had come here without a few top players, maintained their domination over the home side and ended the series in emphatic style.
This series victory also rectified their disappointing performance in this country in 2010 when they lost all their two matches in a tri-series.
Captain Virat Kohli, one of the Indian centurions in the series, dropped himself down and sent Rahane at number three as the target was small. His teammates ensured that there was no need for their captain to come out and bat.
India’s run chase though did not begin well with opener Cheteshwar Pujara dismissed in the fourth ball for a duck.
Playing in his second ODI of his career, Pujara was cleanbowled by Kyle Jarvis with a good length delivery just outside off which cut back to sneak through the gap between bat and pad before hitting the top of middle stump.
Pujara was out in a similar fashion in the previous game, his debut match, when he made 13.
In the fourth over, Dhawan took 15 runs off Brian Vitori with three fours and hit the same bowler for a six and a four two overs later. But Dhawan was dropped in the same over when he was on 32 in the penultimate ball before the break which was taken after the Indians had faced six overs in their small chase.
The Indian opener tried to pull a Vitori delivery towards short fine leg only to top-edge it. But to the Indian’s luck, he survived following a misunderstanding between the fine-leg fielder and his captain and wicket-kepeer Brendan Taylor. The fine-leg fielder, who should have gone for the catch, left it for Taylor, who dived full length but did not get to it.
Dhawan, the other Indian centurion in the series, was out in the 11th off Jarvis, the best bowler for the home side on Saturday. The Indian offered an edge to wicketkeeper Taylor as he attempted to push a good length delivery close to off stump. Dhawan, who had scored 116 in the second match, hit six fours and a six in his 38-ball innings.
Dhawan’s departure saw the Indians slowing down a bit and they had the luxury to do so. Jarvis and Elton Chigumbura bowled an accurate line and length to deny Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja room to play shots.
Rahane, who survived being run out in the seventh over after a mix up with Dhawan, was out in the 28th over, bowled by a turning ball off part-timer Malcolm Waller. But by that time India were well on course for victory.
Jadeja lied low for some time before a flurry of boundaries, including a six and a four off Sean Williams in the 29th over, besides the six which ended the contest.
Earlier, Mishra notched up a career-best six-wicket haul as India dismissed Zimbabwe for 163.
Opting to bowl in chilly conditions, the Indians had the home team on the mat from the very first over. Sean Williams (51) was the only Zimbabwean batsman to put up a semblance of fight before the home team’s innings folded in 39.5 overs.
Mishra was the top wicket-taker for the visiting side with six for 48 in 8.5 overs.
The collapse started pretty early for Zimbabwe with opener Vusi Sibanda (5) getting caught behind the stumps by Dinesh Karthik off Jaydev Unadkat in the fourth over.
His partner Hamilton Masakadza did stay for a while and raised hopes of anchoring the innings before Ravindra Jadeja rattled his stumps. Masakadza struck a 46-ball 32 which included four boundaries.
Next man in skipper, Brendan Taylor, departed without troubling the scorer but consumed 11 balls in the process. He was caught by Suresh Raina at second slip while trying to have a go at Mohit Sharma.
Zimbabwean batsmen’s parade back to pavilion continued before Williams tried his bit to stage a fightback. In his 65-ball knock, Williams picked up six boundaries, giving his teammates a lesson in how to deal with the conditions.
But Mishra brought an end to Williams’ stiff resistance when the batsman tried to sweep on one knee but ended up gloving it to the first slip.
Mishra had earlier taken the crucial wicket of all-rounder Elton Chigumbura (17) who failed to replicate his half-century performance from the previous match.
Kyle Jarvis (12 not out) and Natsai M’shangwe (16) did their bit to delay the inevitable but the Indians proved simply unstoppable.