After losing three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and the first T20 International on the trot, Zimbabwe finally managed to salvage some pride after beating the touring Indian brigade in the second and final T20 match in Harare.
India's quest to maintain a clean sheet in their five-match tour went up in smoke following a spirited performance by the hosts - who came out on top with a 10-run win.
Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer (3/18) was the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe, while Sean Williams (1/31), Taurai Muzarabani (1/23) and Chris Mpofu (1/26) took one wicket apiece. In the batting department, opening batsman Chamu Chibhabha smashed a 51-ball 67 to power the hosts to a competitive total of 145 runs.
India's batting performance:
Chasing Zimbabwe's competitive total of 145 runs proved a bit too much for the visitors who were let down by their misfiring batsmen. Reeling at 69/5 in nine overs, middle-order batsmen Stuart Binny (24) and debutant Sanju Samson (19) played cameos only to see their side fall short at the end.
India suffered an early blow with skipper Ajinkya Rahane (4) getting run-out following a mix-up with opening partner Murali Vijay (13) on the third ball of the match. Vijay and Robin Uthappa (42) added 53 runs in 34 balls before the former was dismissed by Zimbabwe's spinner Graeme Cremer (3/18).
Three balls later, Cremer struck again to get rid of Manish Pandey (0) who failed to pick the deceiving googly and got out lbw. Uthappa was looking good for the visitors before getting caught and bowled by Sean Williams (1/31) in the very next over. Kedar Jadhav (5), who scored a blistering hundred in the third ODI, didn't last long either as India lost half their side in just nine overs.
Samson and Binny were India's only hope as the duo added 36 runs for the sixth wicket. But, Cremer came back into the attack and dismissed Binny to dent India's chances. Samson was the next batsman to depart after getting caught at long-on in the 18th over, dashing India's hopes of pulling off the run-chase.
India's bowling performance:
After losing the toss, the Indian team took the field and the bowlers were looking to restrict the opposition to a moderate total, if not a below-par score. Zimbabwe's opening pair of Chamu Chibhabha (67) and Hamilton Masakadza (19) had added 28 runs in 20 balls when Sandeep Sharma (1/39) dismissed the latter in the fourth over, providing a breakthrough to India.
Mohit Sharma (2/28) struck in the sixth over to get rid of Sikandar Raza (8) as Zimbabwe lost their second wicket. Chibhabha and Sean Williams (17) added 37 runs for the third wicket to steady the innings for the hosts. At a time when their partnership started to threaten the visitors, young spinner Axar Patel (1/23) struck in the 12th over to send Williams back in the hut.
With Chibhabha in sublime form, Zimbabwe were looking to accelerate in the death overs when Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/26) came back into the attack and dismissed their top-scorer. Chibhabha was bowled by a perfect yorker after scoring a crucial 67 runs for the hosts.
Kumar struck again in the same over as his yorker proved a bit too much for Craig Ervine (7) to handle. Mohit got his second wicket in the last over after dismissing Prosper Utseya (1).
The Indians took wickets at regular intervals to deny momentum to the home side, but Chibhabha continued to score runs and steered Zimbabwe to a competitive total of 145 runs.
Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane speaks on his team's performance: "(All in all) guys played pretty well (on this tour). We got two hundreds - (Ambati) Rayudu and (Kedar) Jadhav - and (Murali) Vijay and me got fifties. But still we have to improve as a batting unit. Guys have to lift their game here. There's always a good thing when there's healthy competition (for places] so we enjoy that. I'm sure this will get Indian cricket better day by day," Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane told reporters in the post-match press conference.
On losing 2nd T20 International: "We are disappointed with this loss but you have to appreciate our boys as well. They have played some good cricket throughout the tour. In a T20 anything can happen," Rahane added.
On Zimbabwe's performance: "We have to give credit to Zimbabwe because I feel they played really well today. Throughout the series they played well. But today their bowling and fielding were really up to the mark. Their energy was pretty good, but I felt their spinners bowled in the right areas. They got two good run-outs and they took a couple of good catches. "Zimbabwe took wickets continuously and fielded well also. You have to give credit to them. Their batting was good but their bowling and fielding was exceptional," Rahane said.