Harare: Young Kedar Jadhav struck his maiden international century as India thrashed Zimbabwe by 83 runs in the third and final cricket ODI to complete a 3-0 series whitewash, here on Tuesday.
Jadhav smashed a career-best 105 not out off just 87 balls to enable India recover from a top-order collapse and post a competitive 276 for five after being asked to bat at the Harare Sports Club.
Jadhav, in the able company of Manish Pandey (71), put on a crucial 144-run stand for the fifth wicket to revive India after a sloppy start.
Chasing the target, Chamu Chibhabha kept Zimbabwe in the hunt with an 82-run knock but the hosts kept on losing wickets from the other end to be eventually bowled out for 193 in 42.4 overs.
Chibhabha, the most successful batsman for the hosts in the series with two consecutive half centuries, played a gritty knock that came off 109 balls with the help of seven boundaries.
Zimbabwe's chase never got going after the early dismissal of Hamilton Masakadza (7), who fell LBW to Mohit Sharma (2/33) in the sixth over.
Chibhabha and Regis Chakabva (27) then put on a 70-run second wicket stand to keep Zimbabwe afloat before Indian bowlers picked up two wickets in quick succession to derail the hosts' chase.
Chakabva was cleaned up by left-arm spinner Axar Patel (2/39)in the 23rd over before skipper Elton Chigumbura (10) fell LBW to part-time spinner Murali Vijay (1/19).
Wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami (22) played a good hand and shared a 53-run fourth-wicket stand with Chibhabha before he departed LBW by Stuart Binny (3/55).
From there on, Zimbabwe's hopes completely rested on Chibhabha but the opener fell in search of quick runs, caught by Jadhav off Binny.
Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (2/35) then came to the party and picked up two wickets -- Sikander Raza (13) and Graeme Cremer -- in consecutive balls of the final over of his spell to take India close to a comprehensive win.
Binny picked up his third wicket of the day in the next over in the form of Malcolm Waller before Prosper Utseya became Sharma's second victim of the match.
Patel completed the formalities for India, picking up the last wicket of Neville Madziva, stumped by Robin Uthappa.
Earlier, Jadhav and Pandey joined hands when India were in a spot of bother at 82 for four after being sent into bat, but the duo played maturely to resurrect the innings.
A cameo in the end by Binny (18), who also shared an unbeaten 50-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Jadhav, helped the visitors post a decent total.
While Pandey's innings came off 86 deliveries and was studded with four boundaries and a solitary hit over the fence, Jadhav struck 12 fours and a six during his 87-ball quickfire knock.
Apart from the duo, Uthappa (31) was the only other Indian batsman, who tried to consolidate the innings after the early jitters.
Put in to bat, India did not have the best of starts as they lost openers Ajinkya Rahane (15) and Vijay (13) early, with pacer Madziva claiming the two important wickets to leave India reeling at 33 for two in 7.1 overs.
Besides Madziva, Chibhabha (1/55), Masakadza (1/31) and Utseya (1/41) picked up a wicket apiece for the hosts.
With the ball doing enough to trouble the batsmen, India found it difficult to score at a quick rate and although Uthappa tried hard, he also failed to accelerate. Uthappa's dismissal for a 44-ball 31 did not help the visitors' cause.
Manoj Tiwary (10) failed yet again as India witnessed an early batting collapse.
But Pandey and Jadhav steadied the innings and played some delightful shots during their stay at the middle.
On their part, Zimbabwe dropped a number of catches to let the Indians off the hook. Centurion Pandey was dropped as many as three times.
After Pandey's dismissal, Binny provided able support to Jadhav, hitting two fours and a six during his eight-ball 18-run innings.