Innocent Kaia, who scored a magnificent century in the first ODI against Bangladesh last week to script Zimbabwe’s win, will again be in focus during the India series and ahead of the start of the ODI duel, he spoke on various topics, ranging from the matches against India to eying a place in the IPL.

The Indian team is scheduled to take on Zimbabwe in a three-match ODI series that starts this week August 18 in Harare. KL Rahul will lead the Men in Blue and the series is expected to be an exciting one as the hosts are also looking in good touch and are high on confidence after a 2-1 series win over Bangladesh in both T20I and ODI matches earlier this month.

The Men in Blue have rested quite a few first-team players for Zimbabwe ODIs in order to give them some days of rest before the grueling cricket season starts with the Asia Cup T20 tournament and ends in mid-November with hopefully an Indian team winning the 2022 T20I World Cup after a break of 15 years. All three matches will take place at Harare Sports Club on August 18, 20, and 22.

In the absence of a majority of first-team players, a second-string Indian team has been selected for the 50-over matches against Zimbabwe, and they will be led by KL Rahul. The star top-order batter will return to action for the first time since the end of IPL 2022.

KL Rahul
KL Rahul (Credits: Twitter)

Innocent Kaia Opens Up On Facing India After Beating Bangladesh In Both ODI And T20I Series

Innocent Kaia struck his maiden international hundred when Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh in the 1st ODI of the series, not long back. This came in a tough chase of over 300 runs. Innocent Kaia and senior fellow Sikandar Raza added 192 runs for the 4th wicket – breaking a 25-year old partnership record against Bangladesh. Sikandar Raza and Innocent Kaia also became only the second Zimbabwean duo to score tons in the same ODI innings.

“We are very excited. Zimbabwe is playing against India after four or five years. It’s a big series for us, and we’re looking forward to it. Winning is always a good feeling. If you are winning, you have that positive mindset always. So yes, for us, winning against Bangladesh was a positive thing to do, ” said Innocent Kaia on facing India and winning against Bangladesh.

“What has really changed? It’s not about the ticking of things, but it’s just the mindset. When David (Houghton, head coach) came in, he always just told us and taught us that we have to play positive cricket and that’s what we are doing. We are not afraid to play our shots anymore; it’s just that things have changed and it’s not something that is really big, ” said Innocent Kaia on team’s improvement in performance.

Zimbabwe batter Innocent Kaia. Picture Credit: Twitter/@ZimCricketv
Zimbabwe batter Innocent Kaia. Picture Credit: Twitter/@ZimCricketv

” I am sure I can say so. Of course, you know, when there’s no Virat, or Rohit Sharma, or Rishabh Pant, these guys are serious cricketers. I know this team that is coming to Zimbabwe is a strong one and we can’t underrate them by saying we are going to have an easy time playing against them. No, I am sure of putting up a good fight against them, ” said Innocent Kaia on advantage of facing a second string Indian team.

There’s a long list of players who have been rested (comparing the squad to England ODIs). Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, and Arshdeep Singh are among those who toured England but haven’t been named for the Zimbabwe series.

Innocent Kaia Wants To Feature In IPL And Reckons It’s An Advantage To Not Face Jasprit Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah will miss the Asia Cup 2022 continental event because of suffering back spasms for some time. Selectors have left him out of the squad to avoid any aggravation of the pacer’s injury.

“There’s always a big advantage when there’s no Jasprit Bumrah. He is the number one bowler in the world. So, of course, for us to not face him is an advantage, ” said Innocent Kaia on not facing Jasprit Bumrah.

“I just try to keep it simple. I prefer just hitting balls, not whacking them hard. That’s my routine. I am just praying that I perform well against India and score big runs so that they can notice me and I can go and play in the IPL, ” said Innocent Kaia on featuring in IPL.

Craig Ervine
Craig Ervine (Credits: Twitter)

“I don’t want to lie. Zimbabwe is going places. It has changed a lot the way we play cricket. We’ve started to now play positive cricket and I just pray that the youngsters that are coming up continue to play the good way that we are doing now, ” said Innocent Kaia on Zimbabwe future.

“No no no. I don’t believe that. Everyone who is in the squad is now good enough to replace those guys who are not around, ” said Innocent Kaia on missing Craig Ervine and others due to injury.

“2-1 in favour of Zimbabwe. We win the series. As for personal expectations, I want to be the leading run scorer and score hundreds. Simple plan. I just want to score runs to be the leading run scorer in the series. That’s my goal, ” said Innocent Kaia predicting the series.

Craig Ervine is still nursing a hamstring injury and will miss the ODI series against India with Regis Chakabva, who lead Zimbabwe to a 2-1 ODI series triumph against Bangladesh yesterday, continuing to lead the side.

Fast bowlers Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara, who missed the Bangladesh series, continue to remain on the sidelines. Wellington Masakadza, the left-arm spinner, will also miss the series with a shoulder tendon injury.