| Irfan Pathan celebrates with Mohammed Kaif after getting Gavin Ewing for a duck in Harare on Monday. (AFP)
Harare: Seamers Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar ripped Zimbabwe apart, dismissing them for 65 in 24.3 overs as India registered a massive 161-run victory in the third Videocon Cup tri-series match on Monday.
This was the lowest-ever ODI score by any team against India.
Pathan took a career-best five for 27 with his swinging left-arm deliveries and Agarkar also moved the ball appreciably to bag four for 18.
Their performance put the lid on a pathetic batting display by the tourists, who were bailed out by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.
The duo came together in the 34th over with India stagnating on 121 for four and shared an enterprising stand of 103 off 87 balls, which led India to a mediocre 226 for six. Mohammed Kaif also chipped in with a laborious half-century.
Dhoni scored 56 off 46 balls, including four sixes and two fours, and Yuvraj’s 53 not out came off 71 balls and included three fours and a six.
Among Zimbabwean batsmen, only Heath Streak managed to cross the double figures as the hosts recorded their third lowest one-day International total at the Harare Sports Club.
It was Zimbabwe’s 35th defeat in the last 40 matches, marking one of the longest losing streaks dating back to 2003-04, punctuated only by a no-result against Australia in 2004-05 and two wins each during their tour of Bangladesh and a home series against the same opponent.
Zimbabwe’s biggest stand was for the last wicket when Streak and Prosper Utseya (11) added 18 runs.
Dhoni brought up his half century with two consecutive sixes against Andy Blignaut in the 48th over and Yuvraj’s straight six in the final over hurtled India towards their final score. The big-hitting wicketkeeper holed out in the final over.
For the better part of the innings though, India huffed and puffed, initially cautious against the new ball in helpful conditions and then almost strokeless against the off-spin twin of Utseya and Gavin Ewing in the middle overs.
The tourists were straightaway on the backfoot when Venugopala Rao (0), promoted as opener Virender Sehwag was indisposed, departed in the first over, edging redoubtable Streak to captain Tatenda Taibu.
Captain Sourav Ganguly (20) and Kaif (65) then put on 52 runs for the second wicket.
Sourav departed in the 16th over when unable to get going, he tamely spooned a catch at fly slip on the leg-side against the medium pace of Anthony Ireland. He batted for 28 balls for his 20 runs including two fours.
The spinners then took over and tied the batsmen in knots. Rahul Dravid tried to play a forcing stroke on the on-side but was bowled through the gate for 14 runs.
Kaif departed in the 26th over when he pushed Ewing down the track and the bowler dived to his right to pick up an outstanding catch.
So slow were the Indians that at one stage only one four was hit from 20 overs.
The innings finally got some momentum in the final 10 overs which yielded 80 runs as Dhoni and Yuvraj shifted gears.
Most of the thrust came from Dhoni, who hurled his bat at everything and even flicked Ireland over square leg for a six.