(Reuters) – An unbeaten half-century from captain Virat Kohli spurred India to a seven-wicket victory over Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club yesterday and earned the world champions an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match, one-day series.
Kohli, who scored 115 in the first one dayer, never looked troubled as he compiled 68 from 88 balls and led his team past their victory target of 184 with 87 balls to spare.
Batting at number three, he was involved in successive 50-run partnerships with Ambati Rayudu (33) and Suresh Raina (28 not out) that ended Zimbabwe’s hopes of defending the modest 183 they had posted in their innings.
“With our early breakthroughs with the ball and consistent bowling throughout the innings, we did not let them get away with anything,” Kohli said.
“I didn’t think we had to seal the series today, we just had to play good cricket, if we execute properly we are going to end up on the winning side more often than not.
“I have been hitting the ball sweetly for the last couple of months. It’s all about taking responsibility, I am not worried about how much I score, I am more concerned about if I have put the team in a good position to win the game.”
India won the toss and elected to field, hoping to get the most out of the early-morning moisture in the wicket.
Zimbabwe were soon in trouble, losing two wickets with the same number of runs on the board, but a third wicket stand of 65 between Hamilton Masakadza (38) and Brendan Taylor (23) got them out of the early doldrums.
They lost wickets at regular intervals after that though, with only Sean Williams (45) putting together an innings of any substance before he was needlessly run-out.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was again the pick of the Indian bowlers as he collected four for 47 in his 10 overs, taking his tally for the series to nine at an average of 15.
The tourists never looked troubled in their chase, though debutant Michael Chinouya removed Rohit Sharma (14) early on.
That brought Kohli to the crease and his steady innings that included five fours and a six drained the hopes of the home side.
“Our batting is getting quite frustrating now, leading up to the series, with the amount of work we put in, we are not seeing the results,” Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor said. “It is starting to be a little bit irritating. Guys need to have a look in the mirror and toughen up a bit.
“We have lost the series but there are still two more games in Bulawayo and we have to keep our heads up.”
The fourth ODI will be played on Thursday, with the final match of the series on Saturday.
V. Sibanda c Dhawan b Vinay Kumar 0
Sikander Raza c Karthik b Mohammed Shami 1
H. Masakadza c Karthik b Mishra 38
B. Taylor c Mohammed Shami b Unadkat 23
S. Williams run out 45
M. Waller lbw Mishra 0
E. Chigumbura lbw Jadeja 3
P. Utseya c Karthik b Mohammed Shami 10
T. Chatara b Mishra 23
B. Vitori c Karthik b Mishra 17
M. Chinouya not out 6
Extras (lb-5, w-10, nb-2) 17
Total (all out, 46 overs) 183
Fall of wickets: 1-0 2-2 3-67 4-80 5-80 6-89 7-125 8-133 9-167 10-183
Bowling: R. Vinay Kumar 7-0-32-1 (w1), Mohammed Shami 9-0-25-2 (w1), J. Unadkat 7-0-24-1, V.Kohli 1-0-7-0, R. Jadeja 10-2-39-1 (w3), S. Raina 2-0-4-0, A. Mishra 10-0-47-4 (nb2, w1)
R. Sharma b Taylor b Chinouya 14
S. Dhawan c Sibanda b Chatara 35
V. Kohli not out 68
A. Rayudu c & b Vitori 33
S. Raina not out 28
Extras (lb-2, w-7) 9
Total (for three wickets, 35.3 overs) 187
Did not bat: D. Karthik, R. Jadeja, A. Mishra, Mohammed Shami, R. Vinay Kumar, J. Unadkat
Fall of wickets: 1-27 2-67 3-131
Bowling: B. Vitori 8-0-53-1 (w1), M. Chinouya 7-0-36-1 (w2), T. Chatara 7.3-1-34-1 (w2), P. Utseya 10-0-41-0, E. Chigumbura 3-0-21-0 (w2)
Toss: India won the toss and elected to field.
Result: India won by seven wickets.
India lead the five-match series 3-0.