The last time India visited Zimbabwe in 2010, they were in for a rude shock as they failed to make it to the final of the tri-series with Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka being the other teams.
Things look far different this time as stand-in captain Virat Kohli’s men seek to add to the Champions Trophy triumph in England and the tri-series that they won in the Caribbean recently.
While India’s squad for this series may be short on experience, they will not lack for motivation having gained the opportunity to press for more regular inclusion in the future.
Seamer Jaydev Unadkat and batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been brought in, along with uncapped players Parvez Rasool and Mohit Sharma.
Even the more senior players will have something to prove, with Kohli hoping to showcase his captaincy credentials as he leads the side in Dhoni’s absence.
“You need eleven players who are hungry for success, who are hardworking and whose vision is victory,” Kohli said ahead of the first ODI. “All fifteen players are strong and it is a strong unit, which is good.”
“I believe that the games will be competitive. Our squad is a young one but we are out here to have fun,” he added.
Indian coach Duncan Fletcher, who is in charge of the team in his home country, agreed with Kohli and said the tour would be less intense as compared to the gruelling ones in the last two months.
“The past two months have been hectic, too much nerve-wracking stuff happened,” Fletcher said. “We are looking forward to a less intense tour here. I’m sure fans will enjoy the games,” said 64-year-old Fletcher, who was born here and played six ODIs for Zimbabwe in 1983.
India may have rested captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, leading spinner R Ashwin and seamers Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but Zimbabwe’s new coach Andy Waller expects their replacements to prove equally threatening.
“All along we’ve prepared with the hope that we might surprise them in one of the games - we have to be realistic, and look to be competitive and do the best that we can,” Waller said.
“India have got so many cricket players that I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the guys who have come in and some of the players they’ve left out.”
Zimbabwe go into Wednesday’s game at Harare Sports Club with their most settled batting line-up in many years, having been boosted by Sean Williams’ performances in the middle order during their series victory over Bangladesh.
Williams has overcome a minor injury that kept him out of a three-day match against Australia A last week, which a Zimbabwe Select XI lost by 80 runs.
After the success of the recently concluded Celkon Mobile Cup tri-nation series featuring India, West Indies and Sri Lanka in the Caribbean, Celkon are title sponsors of the five-match India-Zimbabwe ODI series which kicks off today.
This series will be called the Celkon Mobile Cup. The last two matches of the series will be held in Bulawayo.
> July 24 at Harare
> July 26 at Harare
> July 28 at Harare
> July 31 at Bulawayo
> August 3 at Bulawayo.
And only player in the current India or Zimbabwe squad who is above 30. At 30 years and eight months, leg spinner Amit Mishra has appeared in 15 matches and taken 19 wickets, incidentally at an average of just a shade above 30.
Number of matches in which Virat Kohli has led India in one day internationals. All these games were played during the just-concluded triangular series in the Caribbean. He lost the first match but went on to win the next two for a success rate of 66.67%
Years and 51 days since India and Zimbabwe last faced-off in an ODI. That game was played in Harare on June 3, 2010 with Zimbabwe emerging victorious by seven wickets. Their current captain Brendan Taylor bagged the man-of-the-match award for his knock of 74 at the top of the order.
Number of matches won by India against Zimbabwe in the latter’s den. The two nations have contested 12 games in Zimbabwe with the hosts winning the remaining four encounters. However India’s last victory was registered almost eight years ago: by four wickets at the Harare Sports Club on September 4, 2005 when Yuvraj Singh bagged the man-of-the-match award for an innings of 120 runs.