India faces Zimbabwe in the first ODI of the series at Harare Sports Club.
India will be missing a lot of their regular ODI players and instead will be featuring a string of fringe players. The likes of Dhoni, Raina, Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli, Umesh have been rested for this tour after India suffered a humiliating series loss in the hands of Bangladesh.
Stand-in captain, Ajinkya Rahane will be leading the Indian team. Rahane was dropped for the last two ODIs against Bangladesh and has faced criticism from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, regarding his inability to rotate strike on slow pitches.
A bunch of players who have in and out of the national squad for years have been given a chance to showcase their talent. This list includes Robin Uthppa, Manoj Tiwary, Murali Vijay, Kedhar Jadhav. India in this tour will have only seven specialist batsmen. Young Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey will be making his debut for the country. He has been picked for this tour owing to a spectacular show in the domestic circiut. Pandey will be joining the above few mentioned along with Rahane and Ambati Rayudu, who has been retained from the Bangaldesh tour.
Another aspect of this tour is that the absence of any specialist wicket keeper in the squad. There are three wicket keeper-batsmen in the form of Uthappa, Jadhav and Rayudu are present and most likely Uthappa will wear the gloves as he has been keeping regularly for his IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders.
Coming to the bowlers, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also makes a comeback to the ODI side after 4 long years. Since leggie Karn Sharma has been ruled out due to injury, he and Axar Patel are the spinning options available to Rahane. Stuart Binny, who bowls medium pace, might get into the team as the Zimbabwean conditions assist pace bowling. Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni will comprise the fast bowling of India. Young KIngs XI Punjab pacer Sandeep Sharma also has been included in the squad but its highly unlikely he will get to play ahead of the above three.
Talking of their opponents, Zimbabwe will be led by their all-rounder Elton Chigumbura. Zimbabwe recently lost 2-0 to Pakistan in the latter’s home but they put up a positive and good fight and they won’t be a pushover in this tour. Chigumbura will be complemented by players like Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Brain Vittori. Technically India is a superior team on paper, but it won’t be surprising if the home team manages to a pull up an upset.
India (Probable XI): Robin Uthappa(WK), Murali Vijay, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane(C), Manoj Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Axar Patel/Stuart Binny, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/ Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohit Sharma
Zimbabwe (Probable XI): Vusi Sibanda/ Chamu Chibhaba, Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura(C), Sean Williams, Richmond Mutumbami(WK)/ Regis Chakabva(WK), Prosper Utseya, Tinsahi Panyangara, Graeme Cremer, Malcolm Waller, Brian Vittori
Match Starts at 12.30 (IST)