Amit Mishra proved too hot for Zimbabwe on a chilly morning at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, claiming a national record 6 for 48 as India bowled the hosts out for 163 in 39.5 overs en route to a 5-0 sweep - just the fourth time in their history that they achieved that margin of victory, and first outside of home. Even the loss of Cheteshwar Pujara for 0 in the first over of the chase did not set back India, who crossed the target in 34 overs with seven wickets in hand.
Mishra had already proven too much for Zimbabwe's batsmen in the previous four ODIs, and on Saturday he befuddled them with a career-best haul, which also turned out to be the best figures by an Indian against Zimbabwe in ODIs. It was his day from the time he removed Walcolm Waller with his first ball bowled - a rank long-hop, mind you - even though he served up far more hit-me balls in this match than he had all tour.
After getting Waller to slap a rubbish delivery to mid-on, Mishra had to wait five overs for his next wicket, but then they came at a quick rate. With the first delivery of his sixth over Mishra trapped Elton Chigumbura (17) right in front of the stumps, and with the sixth he had Tinotenda Mutombodzi poke to second slip for 2. With that, Zimbabwe had slipped to 126 for 7.
The legspinner claimed record figures of 6 for 48 as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 163, a target India chased with seven wickets to spare.
In his following over, the 36th, Mishra got the innings top-scorer Sean Williams (51) to lob a sweep to first slip. A six and four rounded off the over as the tail started to swing wildly during the Powerplay, but Mishra duly had his fifth when Natsai Mushangwe misread a googly. The record sixth came when the No. 11 Brian Vitori edged to slip, meaning Zimbabwe had lost their last five wickets for 41 runs.
Earlier, after Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to field, Zimbabwe were hurt early when Jaydev Unadkat had Vusi Sibanda caught behind on the cut in the fourth over. After ten scoreless deliveries, Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor poked at the 11th and edged Mohit Sharma to second slip for his third duck of the series. Mohammed Shami then got in on the act, though with some help from the umpire who reckoned Timycen Maruma got a thin edge on a slog across the line. Hamilton Masakadaza went next for 32, bowled by an arm ball from Ravindra Jadeja. Here on it was all Mishra.
Kyle Jarvis gave Zimbabwe an early lift when he breached a forward press from Pujara with his fourth delivery, but Shikhar Dhawan - back in the XI as India rested his opening partner Rohit Sharma - clattered five fours and a six to take India to 43 for 1 in six overs. Vitori was carved for three fours in the fourth over and then swatted over the ropes in the next, only to look on as a top-edged pull evaded a diving Taylor at short fine leg.
After the lunch break Taylor missed an opportunity to run out Ajinkya Rahane, failing to collect the ball when the batsman was stranded down the pitch, but partially made up for it when he held a nick from Dhawan (41) off Jarvis. Rahane used the Taylor let-off on 7 to compile a solid half-century, highlighted by some punchy drives down the ground. There was also an eye-catching six, as Rahane rocked back and flat-batted Mutombodzi over midwicket. Rahane took his time to get set, understandably, and reached his fifty in 62 balls.
That was as far as he got, for two balls later Rahane missed one from Waller. Jadeja, who by this time had made his way to 21 off 56 balls in a stand worth 71, proceeded to open up. Williams was tonked down the ground for four and six in one over and Vitori sliced to the cover boundary, and the winning hit came from Jadeja too - Waller being pulled for six. Jadeja finished not out on 48 from 77 balls, scoring 27 out of 41-run alliance with Dinesh Karthik (10*).