Sikandar Raza continued his brilliant run of form by smashing his third century in six One Day Internationals (ODIs) as Zimbabwe came agonisingly close to claiming a famous victory against India before losing by 13-runs in the third ODI at Harare Sports Club on Monday.
The result meant India completed a 3-0 series victory although they were given a big scare by a determined Zimbabwean side in the dead rubber match.
Carrying on from his brilliant form against Bangladesh Raza, who had initially struggled in the first two matches saved his best for last after hitting 115 from 95 balls.
He looked on course to guide Zimbabwe to an unlikely win but fell in the penultimate over as the hosts were bowled out for 276 with three balls remaining, chasing India’s total of 289-8.
Until Raza’s late fight back India had earlier looked on course for another one-sided victory after reducing the hosts to 167 for seven before the 36-year-old all-rounder’s innings meant Zimbabwe needed 17 off the last two overs.
Raza had already hit three sixes and he attempted a fourth over long-on midway through the penultimate over before being brilliantly caught by India’s centurion Shubman Gill.
His dismissal extinguished Zimbabwe’s hopes.
India’s victory was set up by Shubman Gill, who scored his maiden ODI century after the visitors chose to bat first.
The stylish right-hander hit an entertaining 130 off 97 balls, which included 15 fours and a six. He however rode his luck on his way to the match-winning innings after being dropped by Victor Nyauchi on 110.
Gill shared a 140-run stand for the third wicket with Ishan Khan, who made 50 while Shikhar Dhawan (40) and KL Rahul (30) also contributed with the bat to ensure India reached a challenging total.
Seamer Brad Evans was impressive with the ball, taking a career-best 5-54 in 10 overs to become only the third Zimbabwean bowler to take a fiver against India, joining legends Eddo Brandes and Heath Streak.
In response, Sean Williams set the tone for the hosts by scoring a fluent 45 off 46 balls, but Zimbabwe then lost wickets regularly to slump to 169 for seven.
Raza then shared a crucial eighth-wicket partnership stand of 104 runs with Evans (28) to drag the hosts back in contention but they both fell in quick succession as India overcame a huge scare.
Seamer Avesh Khan, playing his second ODI claimed two wickets for 66 runs.