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India pockets series against Zimbabwe with eight-wicket win

India romped home with 139 balls to spare after the bowlers led by young leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3/25) restricted the hosts to a meagre 126 in just 34.3 overs

India pocketed its third consecutive One-Day International (ODI) series win against Zimbabwe on Monday after the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side inflicted an eight-wicket defeat on the hosts in the second of the three-match series.

In what turned out to be another one-sided affair at the Harare Sports Club, India romped home with 139 balls to spare after the bowlers led by young leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3/25) restricted the hosts to a meagre 126 in just 34.3 overs.

In reply, the men-in-blue were off to a brilliant start with openers Lokesh Rahul and Karun Nair putting on 58 runs before being separated. Rahul, the centurion in the previous match, got to another good start with a 50-ball 33 comprising four boundaries before being bowled by all-rounder Chamu Chibhabha.

But Nair and Mumbai’s Ambati Rayudu forged another 67-run partnership for the second wicket to take India within sniffing distance of a win before the right-handed opener was packed back by off-spinner Sikandar Raza. Nair’s patient 39 came off 68 deliveries with five hits to the fence.

Coming in at No. 4 Manish Pandey (4) finished off the proceedings with a boundary to covers, with Rayudu remaining unbeaten on 41 from 44 balls. Rayudu’s knock included seven boundaries.

For the hosts, none of the bowlers could trouble the Indian batsmen as Chibhabha and Raza managed to take one wicket apiece.

Earlier, Zimbabwe squandered a patient start to lose the plot after being sent into bat on a cold morning.

Middle-order batsman Vusi Sibanda (53) waged a lone battle as the home side were comfortably placed at 106/3 by the halfway mark. But when it looked like Sibanda had weathered the top-order wobble to steer them towards a competitive total, Chahal struck twice in successive deliveries to trigger the collapse which saw seven wickets falling for just 20 runs.

Sibanda, who hosted Chahal for a brilliant six over long on in the leggie’s very first over, put on 67 runs for the fourth-wicket with Sikandar Raza (16), providing some resistance to the Indians.

Opener Chamu Chibhaba (21) was the second highest scorer for the home side as all the other batsmen failed to reach double figures.

Sean Williams did not bat because of a finger injury he picked up after the toss. And he went for scans earlier.

India’s young bowling unit was once again at its lethal best with the medium pace trio of Barinder Sran (2/17), Dhawal Kulkarni (2/31) and Jasprit Bumrah (1/27) complimenting Chahal and Patel (1/22) well.

The teams will now lock horns in the inconsequential third ODI on Wednesday before the three-match Twenty20 series at the same venue.

During their previous two tours, India thrashed Zimbabwe 5-0 and 3-0 in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

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