The first ODI between Zimbabwe and India will be played on Thursday, at the Harare Sports Club. The match is scheduled to begin at 10.15 am local time. This will be followed by two further matches between the two sides, both of which will be played at the same venue. The first of those games will be played on Saturday, and the short tour will conclude with the third match in the series on Monday.
Head to head record
This will be the 64th time that the two teams have faced each other in an ODI, and the current head to head record stands 51 wins to India, 10 for Zimbabwe and two matches which were tied. On Zimbabwe soil, the tourists have also got a fine record, having won 19 out of the 23 matches they have played there.
India team news
KL Rahul now leads the Indian team, after being called up as a late addition to the squad, and taking over as skipper from Shikhar Dhawan who led the side to a series whitewash in the West Indies last month.
Meanwhile a raft of big names have been rested ahead of the Asia Cup which begins in Dubai next weekend, including Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant. And head coach Rahul Dravid has also stayed at home this time, with VVS Laxman deputising for him.
Washington Sundar was picked in the original squad, but has been ruled out of the series after picking up a shoulder injury playing for Lancashire against Worcestershire in a County Cup game.
However, uncapped Rahul Tripathi is expected to make his debut for India sometime in the course of the series.
Could this be the last hurrah for some players?
There has been speculation that this series could mark the last hurrah in international cricket for some players, although with the World Cup next year being played in India, there also must be a temptation to hang on for a bit longer.
Nevertheless, Dhawan is one man with question marks over his future, especially after being unceremoniously deposed from the captaincy. He is now 36, and a veteran of more than 150 ODIs for his country, and may not feel that it is time to step out of the limelight.
Meanwhile, Kuldeep Yadav, once a fixture in white ball cricket for India, now finds himself increasingly marginalised by the electors. He took 21 wickets in the Indian T20 league for the Delhi Capitals, but although he was picked for the T20I tour of the West Indies, he did not play a single game.
Fellow bowler Mohammad Siraj is part of the Indian test set-up but only gets into the ODI side when others are rested or are unavailable for some reason. He may follow the example of a player like Ben Stokes and retire from ODIs in order to extend his test career.
The state of Zimbabwe cricket
Zimbabwe cricket has been in a state of flux for years, with decades of financial mismanagement and maladministration leading to the governing body being forced to operate under controlled funding from the ICC.
And, for a time, the country was suspended from international cricket altogether because of government interference in how the sport was run in the country.
A lack of confidence in the system and disillusionment among younger players has also led to a talent drain, with many of the country’s brightest young talents no longer wanting to play for the national team.
There is also a lack of facilities, and club cricket, once the life blood of the sport in a country that remains cricket mad, has virtually ceased.
Yet despite that, they have reached the qualifying competition for this year’s T2OI World Cup in Australia, and they have also just beaten Bangladesh at home in both a T20I and ODI series.
India will underestimate them at their peril.
Given though, the relative strength of the two nations, it will be a major turn-up for the books if India do not win just this first match, but go on to sweep the series as well. As much attention, therefore, will be paid to the manner of victory and individual performances as well as the result.
With some of the big names absent, this is an opportunity for some of the understudies to press their World Cup claims. Who will seize the chance offered?
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