HARARE, June 22: India survived a mighty last-ball scare before clinching the T20 series 2-1 with a nervy three-run victory over a spirited Zimbabwe in the third and final Twenty20 International here today.
The series decider went right down to the last ball after Zimbabwe restricted India to 138 for six and got close to the target before ending at 135 for six. Earlier, Kedar Jadhav bailed India out of trouble with a timely 58 off 42 balls.
Zimbabwe, needing 21 runs off the final over, were in touching distance of a famous series win until Barinder Sran held his nerve for a dramatic finish to the game.
Elton Chigumbura (16) and Timycen Maruma (23 not out) almost pulled off the chase in the final over as Sran conceded a six off the first ball, followed by two fours including one on a no-ball.
A four was needed off the final ball but Chigumbura ended up hitting a low full straight into the hands of Yuzvendra Chahal at cover, triggering wild celebrations by the away side.
The second-string Indian team had to work a lot harder in the T20 series in comparison to three ODIs where they blanked Zimbabwe easily.
The home team made a confident start to the run chase, reaching 40 for one in the first six overs.
After the early departure of Chamu Chibhabha, the experienced duo of Vusi Sibanda (28) and Hamilton Masakadza (15) looked comfortable against the Indian pace attack.
Sibanda came out with an aggressive intent and put pressure on the bowlers especially Dhawal Kulkarni, who was hammered for three consecutive boundaries in his second over.
Sran, who ended with figures of 4/10 on his T20 debut on Monday, was not at his best today even though he provided the first breakthrough and held his nerve in the final over.
The hosts looked threatening with Sibanda in the middle but his and Masakadza�s fall in quick succession turned the match in favour of India.
Masakadza was adjudged lbw after attempting a sweep off left-arm spinner Axar Patel before Kulkarni trapped Sibanda in front of the stumps.
Peter Moor got into the act after Sibanda�s dismissal, punishing a wayward Chahal for three sixes. Chahal offered a couple of long hops and Moor was quick to deposit them into the stands over mid wicket. The leggie finally removed Moor but the target was very much within reach as Zimbabwe needed 51 off the last 36 balls.
However, two tight overs by Jaspirt Bumrah and Patel made life tougher for the opposition, who had to depend on Malcolm Waller and Chigumbura.
India: KL Rahul b Madziva 22, Mandeep Singh c Maruma b Tiripano 4, Ambati Rayudu c Chigumbura b Cremer 20, Manish Pandey run out (Chigumbura) 0, Kedar Jadhav c Chigumbura b Tiripano 58, MS Dhoni b Tiripano 9, Axar Patel not out 20, Dhawal Kulkarni not out 1; Extras: (LB-1, W-3) 4; Total: (For 6 wkts; 20 overs) 138; Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-27, 3-27, 4-76, 5-93, 6-122; Bowling: T Chatara 4-1-34-0, D Tiripano 4-0-20-3, N Madziva 4-0-32-1, C Chibhabha 4-0-19-0, G Cremer 4-0-32-1.
Zimbabwe: Chibhabha c Chahal b Sran 5, Masakadza lbw b Patel 15, Sibanda lbw b Kulkarni 28, Moor c Mandeep Singh b Chahal 26, Waller c Bumrah b Kulkarni 10, Chigumbura c Chahal b Sran 16, Maruma not out 23; Extras: (LB-8, W-3, NB-1) 12; Total: (6 wickets in 20 overs) 135; Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-57, 3-60, 4-86, 5-104, 6-135; Bowling: Sran 4-1-31-2, Kulkarni 4-0-23-2, Bumrah 4-0-23-0, Patel 4-0-18-1, Chahal 4-0-32-1. � PTI