ZIM v IND 2024, ZIM vs IND 3rd T20I Match Report, 10 July 2024

India 182 for 4 (Gill 66, Gaikwad 49, Jaiswal 36, Raza 2-24, Muzarabani 2-25) beat Zimbabwe 159 for 6 (Myers 65*, Madande 37, Washington 3-15, Avesh 2-39) by 23 runs

Ultimately, India took a big step towards victory in the five-match T20I series against Zimbabwe with a 23-run win in the third match to take a 2-1 lead.

Gill scored 66 off 49 balls as he opened the batting and Yashasvi Jaiswal, his batting partner, slammed 36 off 27, setting the stage for Gaikwad’s 49 off 28 balls that helped India to 182 for 4. Washington then picked up three wickets, including two in his first over, for 15 runs to dampen Zimbabwe’s chances of a fightback.

Zimbabwe managed to delay the inevitable thanks to a fantastic half-century from Dion Myers, his first in T20Is, and his 77-run partnership with Clive Madande.

Gill and Jaiswal meet at the top

The return of three players from the T20 World Cup-winning team forced India to change tactics. Jaiswal was the regular opener – every time India played without Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli – and he regained the top spot with Gill. As a result, Abhishek Sharma, who just scored his maiden international century in the second T20I, and Gaikwad had to play at positions 3 and 4.

Jaiswal started with two fours and a six in the first over. Gill did the same in the second over. India were 29 in two overs, then 49 in four. Then Blessing Muzarabani found his length and pace to bowl on a two-paced surface. Sikandar Raza’s spin was hard to counter. And from 54 for 0 in five overs, India crawled to 67 for 0 at the end of the eighth over. Which resulted in Jaiswal’s dismissal – missing the switch shot towards backward point.

Gill Anchors, Gaikwad Batons

Abhishek had a brief stint in the middle, which allowed Gill and Gaikwad to come together in the 11th over. Wessly Madhevere’s lone over – the 13th of the innings – allowed India to change gears. Gill first hit the legspinner for a six before Gaikwad hit him for a six and a four. Gaikwad used his feet consistently, even against pace, to bowl Tendai Chatara and later Richard Ngarava, who replaced Luke Jongwe in Zimbabwe’s XI, out of their lengths.

Gill accelerated to bring up a fifty in 36 balls, his first as India captain in T20Is. However, despite a long batting order – Washington was seeded at No. 8 – India were in danger of finishing below par when they were 130 for 2 after 16. That was when an 18-run over from Raza – with four byes and a six each from Gill and Gaikwad – lifted them. But the extra bounce on the surface consumed Gill in the 18th over, when he looked to bowl Muzarabani over the covers but missed it to the returning Raza. Gaikwad hit a few vigorous shots but fell one run short of fifty.

India finished at 182, which is not at all below par. Two half-century partnerships – 67 off 50 between Gill and Jaiswal and 72 off 44 between Gill and Gaikwad – had taken India there, and Jaiswal, at the break, felt that was enough.

What helped them were a few missed half-chances, two missed catches – one from Jaiswal and one from Gaikwad – and a plethora of misses.

Fielding lets Zimbabwe down again

When Chatara failed to get his hands on Jaiswal’s shot in the first over, little did Zimbabwe know that it was a harbinger. In the next over, Myers reacted a little late to a top edge from Gill and the ball landed just in front of him running from mid-wicket. Jaiswal and Gaikwad were given a reprieve. A few half-chances were missed. The mishaps in the field were mostly regulation efforts, which allowed India to get off to a good start despite being given 22 runs in the powerplay. Overall, India were given 31 runs as per ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball data. The final margin of victory was just 23.

Zimbabwe loses its way and finds it too late

Tadiwanashe Marumani replaced the split-webbing Innocent Kaia at the top of the order and started in an enterprising manner. He hit a couple of fours in the first over bowled by Khaleel Ahmed – in place of Mukesh Kumar – but fell trying to repeat the dose in his next over. At the other end, Avesh Khan first dismissed Madhevere, who tapped one to short cover, and then Brian Bennett, courtesy of a spectacular flying catch from Ravi Bishnoi at back of point.

When Raza crossed the line to score in the deep square on Washington’s second ball, the writing seemed to be on the wall. Things got better for India – and worse for Zimbabwe – when substitute Riyan Parag took a crisp catch to dismiss Johnathan Campbell four balls later against Washington.

But Myers and Madande had other plans. India’s decision to welcome back all their returning players from the T20 World Cup left them short of bowling resources. As a result, Abhishek and Shivam Dube had to combine to bowl four overs. Myers and Madande didn’t let them settle for six fours and two sixes. Those four overs cost India 50. Thanks to early breakthroughs, it didn’t cost them much on the day.

S Sudarshanan is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Sudarshanan7

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