The one-day series against Zimbabwe is only going from good to better for India. A win at Bulawayo in the fourth ODI was a mere formality of sorts, but it was the manner in which the victory was achieved by India that was most impressive. With the series already in the bag, India, as expected gave a chance to some of the reserves in the squad, and it was an experiment that did not fail. Although Cheteshwar Pujara could not succeed on his much-awaited one-day debut, Mohit Sharma was right on the mark.
Sharma, who has only a handful of domestic games to his credit, but was Chennai Super Kings’ most effective bowlers during IPL 6, showed little nerves on his international debut. Virat Kohli showed good faith in him, and asked the rookie to open the bowling, and the lanky medium pacer did not disappoint. Right from the start, Sharma was on the button. Of course, he was aided by the Zimbabwean openers who were low on confidence, but to his credit, he worked the situation to his advantage. The delivery he bowled to get rid of Sikandar Raza was a typical opening bowler’s dismissal.
Not only did Sharma pick up the early wickets, but also kept things tight right through. The fact that he came back in his second spell to break a stubborn partnership was an indication that he could be a partnership breaker, a role that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has slipped into so effortlessly in recent times. While Sharma made a highly impressive debut, the fact that he ended up as the man of the match in his first ever one-day international would have pleased him no end. So what if it was against the Zimbabweans, the performance should give him the confidence to go on to bigger things.
If Sharma was effective, the other bowlers in the team also continued to impress. Mohammad Shami can do with a bit of variation, but he should improve with experience. Jaydev Unadkat did not have much to do with the batsmen not looking to attack, but he did a good job by keeping the runs down, and was rewarded with a scalp as well. Ravindra Jadeja only continued his wicket-taking form, adding a couple of scalps and even effectinga brilliant run-out. As for Amit Mishra, he is proving to be way too good for Zimbabwe.
There were big positives for India in the batting department as well. While Pujara fell early, two batsmen who had to get among the runs did so. Rohit Sharma needed a score behind his name since he had been getting too many starts. He was all at ease as Zimbabwe’s bowlers appeared to have given up. The decision to send Suresh Raina in at number three was a sensible one since he had looked completely out of sorts in the previous matches. Thankfully, Raina spent some precious time out in the middle to cap a perfect win for the Indians.
--By A Cricket Analyst