India eye whitewash, Zimbabwe desperate for win
Bulawayo: Four back-to-back victories achieved with consummate ease, India might continue to experiment with their team composition as they aim to complete a clean sweep against Zimbabwe in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer here on Saturday.
Led well by an in-form Virat Kohli, India have outclassed the hapless Zimbabweans in every department of the game and it would take a momentous effort from the hosts to get at least one win.
At the start of the series, Zimbabwe`s coach, Andy Waller, had hoped of surprising India at least once in the series but that moment is unlikely to come even on Saturday given the way the visitors have dominated so far.
"Definitely (that`s the aim). We want to end on a high and go home with smile on face. We want to finish the series properly and if we execute things, proper results will follow," Kohli had said when asked if he has a 5-0 result in mind. In fact, the Indians have felt more at home with the conditions than the home team, which has failed to fire even once as a unit.
Aside from a bright spark here or a fighting effort there, Zimbabwe`s performance has been expectedly sub-standard against India, a team which was missing some of its key players such as regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, pacer Umesh Yadav and off-spinner R Ashwin.
In the fourth match, which the Indians won by nine wickets, a couple of ODI debuts were handed out with pacer Mohit Sharma instantly making an impression.
Mohit, which figures of 26/2 became the second Indian player to receive the Man of the Match award on debut in ODIs. The other debutant Cheteshwar Pujara could not make much of an impact as he was dismissed for 13.
The Indians might just try out all-rounder Parveez Rasool as well in the last match and if it happens, he would become the first cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to get an ODI cap.
Ajinkya Rahane has not played a single match in the series and the team management may give him a chance by resting one of the batsmen.
For Zimbabwe, the match would be an opportunity to retrieve some of the lost pride. They would be hoping to spring that one surprise that their coach had wanted from them.
Sikandar Raza, Elton Chigumbura and Vusimuzi Sibanda would shoulder the batting responsibilities having been the primary run-getters for the team through the series.
The trio will, however, need to fire in unison to make any impact against the rampaging world champions.
Among bowlers, Brian Vitori and Prosper Utseya would have to extract the maximum from the wicket to trouble the in-form visitors, who have not experienced any major trouble in scoring runs.
Above all, the home team will have to show a collective fighting spirit and the kind of mental toughness which, according to their captain Brendon Taylor, has been missing so far.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Parveez Rasool, Vinay Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Jaydev Unadkat, Amit Mishra.
Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (capt), Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Michael Chinouya, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Natsai M`shangwe, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.
Match starts at 12.30 pm (IST)