Sikandar Raza's valiant effort of 115-run knock almost propelled Zimbabwe to victory in the third and final ODI against India in Harare on Monday. The Men in Blue defeated them by 13 runs, completing a 3-0 series sweep.
Zimbabwe were 169 for seven, with Sean Williams (45 off 46) providing the only major contribution. It was only a matter of time before Raza and Brad Evans combined to threaten team India with their 104-run stand.
Evans scored 28 runs to lead Zimbabwe close to a lead. Raza then took on the role of the attacker in an attempt to destroy the Indian team.
Raza was batting on 23 when Kuldeep Yadav bowled him out. He followed that by hitting a boundary and a six to Deepak Chahar.
In the 39th over, Raza smashed Shardul Thakur for three boundaries, totalling 20 runs. With only three wickets, Zimbabwe needed 95 runs from the final ten overs.
Raza did not give up. He hit Deepak Chahar for a six-over cover to record his sixth ODI century. Raza smashed Avesh Khan for four and a six, bringing the total to 17 runs in the final two overs.
Avesh ruined Zimbabwe's chances before they cloud add another score. Zimbabwe's rally ended when Avesh trapped Evans in front of the stumps.
Shubman Gill's maiden international century propelled India to victory in the end.
“The way Sikandar Raza was batting in the last 10 overs, we felt he could snatch the game away,” Axar said after the match.
“But we backed our plans and did not relax till the last ball. We decided to put in our best effort till the very end. I think that benefited us a lot."