India’s Tour of Zimbabwe – A Preview

After the triumphant limited overs campaigns in England and West Indies, India will embark on a tour to Zimbabwe with a relatively young and inexperienced side. Under normal circumstances, most people will question the justification of such a tour when the national team has been playing virtually non-stop throughout the year. Well, let’s say this tour will be ideal for the young players as it will give them some good exposure before they are selected for the bigger tours. For players who are well entrenched in the first squad this will give them a relaxed environment against a probably weaker opposition to further test their skills and extend their form ahead of the tough series against the South Africans later this year.

Now let us take a look at the team that has been selected for the Zimbabwe series. The batting is basically the same that won India the last couple of series. This tour is basically going to be a good opportunity for people like Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina to score some more runs and for players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to make a mark for themselves in the ODIs. Rahane had a good series in England where he debuted in 2011 but after that has more or less fizzled out and seen his spot being taken over by Mumbai teammate Rohit Sharma. This tour may well see him make a much needed comeback. For Kohli, this tour will be a good opportunity to establish his leadership credentials as, evidently enough, the Indian selectors are looking at him to be their next captain after M.S. Dhoni.

Ambati Rayudu has been scoring runs consistently in the domestic season especially the IPL and one expects him to perform well if and when he receives a chance during the tournament. For Dinesh Karthik, this will be a golden opportunity to cement his spot as the go-to-man when Dhoni is not there, at least in the limited overs matches.

There is also plenty of experience in the bowling department with Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra manning the spin department. Not much needs to be said about Jadeja’s importance in the Indian team and Mishra is one of the best leg spin bowlers going around in India and also a pretty handy batsman lower down the order. Parvez Rasool, the young all-rounder from Jammu and Kashmir, comes into the team on the back of some exceptional performances in domestic and representative cricket. His performance against Australia for the A team where he took a bagful of wickets is one he would be looking to replicate so that he can nail a regular spot as an all-rounder in the team.

The seam bowling will most likely be handled by Shami Ahmed and R Vinay Kumar who have already played for the national team. They will be supported by Jaydev Unadkat and Mohit Sharma. I am not really sure Unadkat is a worthy investment and feel someone like Siddarth Kaul or Ishwar Pandey could have been given the chance. As it is, they will be playing in A team tour to South Africa and they could have used this tour to get used to the national team and its environment. Mohit Sharma has shown plenty of promise in domestic cricket as well and much will depend on how he is able to execute his variations, which are clearly his area of strength.

The team that they are facing will not exactly be easy pushovers. There are some good batsmen like skipper Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller and Sean Williams who will be well backed up by all-rounders Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer and Elton Chigumbura. The seam bowling is well stocked with performers like Kyle Jarvis, and Brian Vitori. There are some new faces like Tendai Chatara, Michael Chinouya, Timycen Maruma, Natsai Mushangwe, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, and Sikandar Raza who will be eager to make their mark against one of the top teams of the world.

I personally think they should have selected Shingi Masakadza and Keegan Meth against India. They performed well against Bangladesh and there is absolutely no excuse for not selecting these players especially when you are going up against a team that has been dominating recently like India has. In fact, Tino Mawoyo should also have been in the team. Zimbabwe does not play an awful lot of cricket and it is natural that they should have chosen to go with a set team rather than experiment with so many spinners and young players. In my humble opinion, Zimbabwe may regret these choices and the series may not be as competitive as the last time India toured there.
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India Vs Zimbabwe 2013 schedule