Having trumped Zimbabwe by 10 wickets in the second T20, and with that levelling the series, India would be looking to finish the tour on a winning note, and in process claim the T20 series as well. Against all predictions, India were shocked by two runs in the opening match. But, they raised their game in the second match, to clinch a thumping victory. They would undoubtedly head into the final match as favourites. But, India will do well to guard against complacency, perhaps one of the reasons they began the T20 series on a losing note. Zimbabwe are still in with a chance of winning the series if they can come up with a good performance on Wednesday. They wouldn't be giving up easily.
India brought up their A game in the previous match, and they will be keen to continue the same in the final match as well. They were numerous positives for the visitors in the victory in the second T20. Barinder Sran, who did a reasonable job for the team in the one-dayers, bowled superbly for his four wickets, to finish with the best figures on debut for an Indian in the T20 format. Further, Jasprit Bumrah continued his great run with a three-wicket spell, while keeping the runs down. Zimbabwe's batsmen have just not been able to find a way past him. Yuzvendra Chahal too continues to impress in his debut season.
India's batting was a mixed bag in the opening match, but with a paltry total to chase, there was hardly any pressure on them in the next game. Mandeep Singh utilised the opportunity to get a well-compiled half-century. He got a start in the first match as well, so he will be looking to continue to good run. After a rare failure on his T20 debut, Lokesh Rahul was back to his scoring ways in the second game. He was all at ease against the Zimbabwe bowlers as India raced home with ease. India will however hope that the others in the team perform if the occasion arises. In Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Faiz Fazal and Kedar Jadhav they have reasonably talented batsmen.
A lot of eyes will be on MS Dhoni in the final T20. He failed to take India home in the opening game, another addition to his increasing list of failures to take the team over the line in a tense finish. Dhoni hasn't got any chances to make an impression apart from the first T20. And, he would hope that he isn't needed for Wednesday's match as well. At the same time, if he gets a bat, and fails again, serious question marks will be raised about his place in the team. There are already calls from ex-players and cricket expert to let the one-day and T20 captaincy being handed over to Virat Kohli, so that India has the same leader across formats.
Zimbabwe will be disappointed with the effort, or the lack of it, they put up in the previous match, especially after the victory in the opening match. But, it is still not all over for Zimbabwe, as they can still win the series if they come up with an effort like the one in the first T20. For that to happen, their experienced players will need to put their hands up. Except for Elton Chigumbura, no one has really put their hands up in the batting department. The likes of Hamilton Masakadza, Chamu Chibhabha, Malcolm Waller and Sikandar Raza will need to show significant improvements.
--By A Cricket Analyst