When Amit Mishra arrived in Zimbabwe a fortnight ago, he had just 19 wickets to show in his 15-match stop-start career that had started a good 10 years ago.
The leg-spinner could not have asked for a better place and opposition to vent his frustration. And the poor Zimbabweans were at the receiving end.
By the end of the five-match series, Mishra had picked up 18 wickets in five games, just one less than he had before touching the African shores.
The way Zimbabwe batsman played or not played Mishra, illustrates how badly the hosts were outplayed. At the Queen Sports Club, Zimbabwe once again were clueless against Mishra, who took a career-best 6 for 48 to propel India to 5-0 series victory, after a seven-wicket win on Saturday.
The series sweep was India’s first in a five-match contest on foreign soil.
Like in the whole series, Brendan Taylor’s men were unable to read Mishra’s variations, particularly the googly and danced to his tunes.
It was a game to play for pride for Zimbabwe, but to be brutally honestly they did not have the wherewithal to counter the dominant Indians.
This series was meant to bridge the gulf between the No. 1 and No. 10 ranked nations, but the series has only widened it.
It was a familiar script again on Saturday. Having been inserted to bat for the fourth time in the series, Zimbabwe lost the top-order to Indian seamers, before Mishra came in and weaved his magic.
There was a brief resistance in the middle-order from Sean Williams (51, 65b, 6x6), as the left-hander put on 50 runs for the sixth-wicket with Elton Chigumbura.
But Mishra, who had started with Malcolm Waller’s wicket off his first delivery of the day, dictated terms entirely.
The 30-year-old’s googly has been hard to pick for the Zimbabweans and Mishra showed them he has many more tricks up his sleeves. He brought out his leg break and wrong ’un to run through the lower-order, as the hosts put in a familiar show to be bowled out for 163 in 39.5 overs.
Mishra’s personal best figures ensured the Haryana bowler equalled the world record for most wickets in a bilateral series with compatriot Javagal Srinath, who had achieved the feat in a seven-match series in 2002-03 against New Zealand.
The target was never going to test the Indian batsmen and it gave Cheteshwar Pujara another opportunity to show his capability as a One-day player. But the opener fell in the fourth ball of the innings, bowled through the gate by a Kyle Jarvis delivery.
However, Ajinkya Rahane did not let go the opportunity.
The right-hander playing in place of Ambati Rayudu, made a valuable half-century. As Shikhar Dhawan, returning to the side after sitting out of the last game, took on the seamers, Rahane played himself in.
Dhawan fell on 41 to Jarvis, failing to cash on fast start as India found themselves in at 51-2.
But there were not going to be any alarm bells on a good batting wicket, even though India chose to experiment with their batting order.
Ravindra Jadeja, who had batted only once in the series so far, joined Rahane as the duo took a cautious approach as they stitched a 76-run partnership. Even as Rahane fell, chopping Waller on to stumps, Jadeja saw India home without any discomfort.