As the young and fresh-look Indian team packs its bags to the forgotten land of cricket, for many fans this tour is as insignificant, if not more, than the recent West Indies tour. Many would believe that a whitewash is inevitable and a measly formality. Although the team is new-look and has a few inexperienced players, the below-average Zimbabwe wouldn’t be able to pose any real threat to this Indian squad.
India are to play Zimbabwe in a five-match series from July 24 to August 3. The squad is without MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.”I don’t think experience matters, especially in limited overs game. You need 11 players, who are hungry for success, who are hardworking and whose vision is team victory. All 15 players are strong and it is a strong unit, which is good,” said captain Kohli before leaving for the tour.
The team is fresh from back-to-back series victories as they first lifted the ICC Champions Trophy in England and then clinched the tri-series in the West Indies, in which Sri Lanka was the third outfit. This series provides a slightly easier platform for the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma to improve on the good form they have shown over the last couple of months.
It is also an opportunity for Cheteshwar Pujara to make a mark in the shorter format of the game. Despite the fact that he has not played a single ODI yet, he is expected to be a pillar of solidity in an inexperienced batting line up. He is coming into the tournament after a string of good performances in List A cricket and would like to get some runs under his belt before the big South Africa tour.
Ajinkya Rahane is another player who would like to stake a claim for the opener’s spot which has been taken up by Rohit Sharma.
Meanwhile, the likes of Mohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Parvez Rasool have to make the most of their chances with eye-catching performances to ensure that it’s not just a one-off tournament for them. We have seen many players come and disappear from the scene after playing similar low-profile series over the last decade. Its almost a given that once the big guys are back, they have to make way.
For Rayudu, who was once hailed as the best young talent in the country, it’s been an never-ending wait. Many in the domestic circuit believe that his temperament overshadowed his talent and almost ended his career till he managed to get into Mumbai Indians squad, where he rubbed shoulders with the greats of the game. At 28, this will be his last chance for redemption.
Although inexperienced, the team is expected to pull off a whitewash with the talent on display. And in Virat Kohli, they have a captain who is hungry to showcase his leadership qualities and is ready to stake his claim for the top post in the near future.