An absorbing series of cricket has ended. India just defeated Zimbabwe 3-0 in a three-match One Day International series. Don’t just go by the scoreline. There was more to the series as well – Zimbabwe demonstrated that they could survive for long periods of play... by batting at a run rate of marginally over two. Of course, that was slightly offset by the fact that they would collapse even at the hint of a forward push, but the intent is what matters, right?
But there was more to it as well. Here are five important gains for Indian cricket from a fascinating ODI series:
1. Harare is cold
India may be just at the end of one of its hottest summers on record, but the custodians of Indian cricket found the perfect way to give one of their greatest captains a nice little summer break.
Temperatures in Harare were lower than in winter in Mumbai, which meant most members of the Indian team had to take recourse to sweaters and full sleeves for the little time they spent on field. It must have been a great break for some of India’s young talents, especially considering they even got to play some cricket for recreation.
2. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is having a good time
You have to hand it to the skipper, here. Considering the level of seniority he has on this tour, he could have easily chosen to be completely serious about the entire thing.
But it turns out, he’s doesn’t mind sharing a dinner or two with his team (and then sharing it with the rest of the world).
Or even deciding to join the odd game of FIFA. After all, it is football season and though they may be forced to play cricket, their hearts were probably elsewhere, namely France (Euro 2016) and the United States (Copa America Centenario).
And even though there were those annoying official functions to attend...
...it doesn’t mean Dhoni is not getting time to indulge in his hobbies. So what if Zimbabwe’s not really known for being a paradise for bikers, the Indian captain is quite a crafty fellow and knows exactly how to get his hands on one of those mean machines.
3. There’s a brand of jeans called Killer...
The name of the series was the “Killer Cup”. We know because the commentators never stopped repeating it.
But it piqued our curiosity. Why would anyone call a series “Killer Cup”? Were the organisers actually throwing a Freudian hint? And were we fools to have not picked it up?
Fear not, we solved the riddle. It turns out there is a brand of jeans named Killer, headquartered in Mumbai. And if nothing else, even the mystery of the series name has been solved: there couldn't have been a better way to kill the interest of any aspiring cricket lover than to make them watch the games.
4. Zimbabwe fans have abandoned cricket (you can’t really blame them)
Zimbabwe scored a total of 417 combined runs in three matches. No, that’s not a lot, but that still might have been more than the total number of fans who came to the grounds to cheer them.
The few who did come were a vocal lot. And they ensured that the players in the middle knew exactly how they felt.
But can you really blame them? Even the so-called "minnows" could not have been as abject failures as Zimbabwe were on this series.
5. Some cricket did take place
Oh yes, funnily enough, it did. India batted thrice and lost three wickets in the entire series. They also picked up 29 out of a maximum possible of total 30 Zimbabwean wickets. Out of a squad featuring 16 players, only four Indian batsmen got to bat. More like three, considering Manish Pandey only played two balls in the entire series.
But don’t let anyone tell you all this. After all, Zimbabwe has become the cricketing equivalent of the place where you’re supposed to go for work when it’s actually a paid holiday. Zimbabwe did upset the odd apple cart earlier, but now that they don't offer even the semblance of a fight anymore, expect more Indian tours to Zimbabwe. Wins are always great. And of course, more Killer Cups.