Although India went to Zimbabwe with a second string side, they were still expected to do well, and were the favourites against the hosts. In the end, they did not do badly, clean sweeping the one-day series 3-0. At the same time, they would be disappointed at losing the second T20, as a result of which, the two-match series was tied 1-1. India though have only themselves to blame, as they did not bat with any great degree of competence, chasing a reasonably small target. Perhaps, the ease with which they won the earlier games made them complacent, as a result of which they faltered in the end.
If India look back at the series, they will take back a few positives, but it is more important to scrutinise the areas in which they faltered, for this series was primarily about the fringe players grabbing their opportunities. In this context, Robin Uthappa was the biggest disappointment. He was given an opportunity following consistent domestic and IPL performances, but failed to do a lot. He got starts in only one of the three ODIs, but did not carry on. He did better in the T20s, remaining unbeaten in the first game, and was the top-scorer in the second. However, when he had an opportunity to take India to victory, he lost his wicket, and missed a golden opportunity.
A lot of others were also tried during the series, and delivered mixed results. Manoj Tiwary has been waiting for opportunities for a while now, but could not convert the chances into runs. Kedar Jadhav was dismissed cheaply in the first two ODIs, but made the series a memorable one for himself by striking a maiden hundred in the final match, as India swept the series 3-0. He will look back at the series with fond memories although he did not do much before and after. The talented Manish Pandey also made his much-awaited debut with an impressive half-century. He was unlucky in the second T20, getting a rough decision.
Although Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay are now established names in the Test arena, they are yet to make their mark in one-dayers, Vijay more so than Rahane. Here was his chance to impress, but apart from the one-half century, he did not do anything of note. It must be said that, like Uthappa, Vijay also lost a golden chance to stake a claim for his one-day spot. He may have been the captain on the tour, but even Rahane ended up disappointing, managing only one half-century on the tour. His captaincy was reasonably good, but it will be too early to judge his skills based on just one series.
In the bowling department, all eyes would have been on Harbhajan Singh, who was making his one-day return after four years. The veteran off-spinner delivered decent spells, but he did not run through the opponent, an indication that he clearly is past his prime. His overall figures weren't bad, but it would be interesting to see whether he has done enough to retain his spot for matches against bigger sides. On the other hand, Stuart Binny did a lot of good to his chances, impressing with both bat and ball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, meanwhile, was absolutely brilliant, especially in the death overs. India needed similar efforts from some of the others.
--By A Cricket Analyst