Having thrashed Zimbabwe by 9 and 8 wickets respectively in the the first two matches, India will be
Having thrashed Zimbabwe by 9 and 8 wickets respectively in the the first two matches, India will be looking forward to another convincing win to claim the series 3-0, and in the process register their third straight clean sweep over the African nation. The margins of the two wins make it clear that it has all been one-way traffic so far. India have been way ahead of the hosts in every department of the game, be it batting, bowling or fielding. The Zimbabweans have just not been able to make any kind of impression, in spite of the visitors resting a number of their key players. They will surely want that to change.
Although India will be rooting for a clear sweep, with the series already in the bag, there is a big chance of India resting some players, and testing out the bench strength. Lokesh Rahul and Ambati Rayudu have done the bulk of the scoring for India in the current series, and there is every possibility that both may be rested. Rahul, who created history with a hundred on ODI debut, could make way for Faiz Fazal, a little known player, who has suddenly been pushed into the limelight. Rayudu, on the other hand, could be replaced by Mandeep Singh. The talented batsman, who has made a name for himself playing in the IPL, will be looking forward to his international chance.
The one somewhat worrying aspect for India could be that their middle order just hasn't got a look in. Apart from Rahul and Rayudu, only Karun Nair has got a chance to get a decent hit out in the middle. Manish Pandey has hardly faced a few balls. He would definitely want to get a feel of the conditions. Among the other batsmen in the team, Kedar Jadhav and all-rounder Rishi Dhawan will also be raring to have a go. And, we haven't even spoken of MS Dhoni yet. The Indian skipper has been happy inserting the opposition in, and restricting them to low totals. It would be interesting to see if he tries anything different, or perhaps even promotes himself with the bat.
More than their batting, it has been India's bowling that has stood out. Although, the opposition is only Zimbabwe, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has still made an impressive start to his career, it must be said. In both the matches, he has maintained a tight grip on the batsmen. Chahal too could be rested for the final match. In his place, upcoming off-spinner Jayant Yadav could be handed a debut. Among the pacers, the trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Barinder Sran and Dhawal Kulkarni have excelled. One of them could make way for comeback man Jaydev Unadkat.
Zimbabwe have struggled primarily because they have been poor with the bat. In both the games so far, they have come up with forgettable efforts. Vusi Sibanda got a half-century in the previous match, but that has been the sole positive for the hosts across the two matches. They have a number of experienced players in the form of Elton Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza. But, none of them have performed to potential so far. The case has been similar in the bowling department as well. If Zimbabwe want to compete in the third game, they will need to raise their game in all departments.