Having staved off the challenge from Zimbabwe in the one-dayers, India will now into the T20s, hoping to win them as well, and complete a clean sweep on the tour. India began the tournament hesitantly, not batting well in the first match, but recovered to win the game. After that, they went from strength to strength, and beat Zimbabwe with ease although the hosts had their chances which they failed to grab. India would thus definitely head into the T20s high on confidence, hoping to continue the winning run. Zimbabwe, on the hand, would believe they have a better chance of upsetting India in the shorter format.
India were dealt with a blow of sorts when in-form batsman Ambati Rayudu was ruled out midway through the tour. But, it hasn’t proved to be a big setback, as his replacement Manish Pandey came in and made 71 on his one-day debut to kick-start his international career on an impressive note. Of course, Rayudu would have loved to continue his great run, but this series is more important for Pandey since he is just beginning up, so the injury can be seen as a blessing in disguise of sorts. T20 is a format in which Pandey has excelled, and he will be keen to do well against Zimbabwe.
One of the biggest positives for India from the previous game was the performance of Kedar Jadhav. The batsman from Maharashtra had failed in the first two matches, and would have been under pressure for sure. But, he came up with a superlative knock to display his talent, and notch up his maiden international ton. The bowlers have also done a decent job, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular being impressive with his line and length. Axar Patel has also grabbed the opportunity to make a mark, while Harbhajan Singh has been decent on comeback.
For India to do well in the T20s however, their openers will need to fire. And so, Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane will be critical to the team’s cause. In T20s, games can be decided in a matter of a few balls, thus the start provided by Vijay and skipper Rahane will have to be a much quicker one than the century partnership he had in the second ODI. The T20s will also be extremely significant for Robin Uthappa. The swashbuckling batsman could not deliver in the one-dayers. Thus, he would be extremely keen to make amends in the T20 format.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, would also like to make an impression. They have had their opportunities in the series, but have failed to convert the same. If you look at their batting, Chamu Chibhabha has been a single-handed success while the rest have not done much. With their experience, a lot more is expected of Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura. In the bowling, the likes of Tinashe Panyangara, Donald Tiripano, Prosper Utseya and Brian Vitori need to contribute. Zimbabwe have shocked teams in T20 before, so India must be wary of the same.
-- By A Cricket Analyst