Chance for Zim to restore pride

HARARE - The young India side that won the Champions Trophy and the tri-series in the Caribbean was already without  many senior players, it was said the defending world champions already had one eye on building for the 2015 World Cup.

For the short trip to Zimbabwe, the selectors picked an even more inexperienced squad, with as many as five of the 15 players having never played an ODI, including three who were still to play an international game.

Further, five more players had little international experience.

It is all very well saying that this trip was about testing the fringes of India’s bench, but there was also the unspoken expectation — almost an assumption — that Virat Kohli would lead the side to an easy victory in his first full series as captain.

Raw side, raw captain.

And three games later, Kohli has a 3-0 margin, a century and a half-century.

He has also given debuts to Ambati Rayudu and Jaydev Unadkat, and stuck to them for all the three matches.
Before the series moved to Bulawayo, Kohli gave himself room to experiment more with the line-up with the series already won.

While it was understandable that Kohli limited himself to two debuts in Harare, despite fans’ desire to see more new faces on the field, it will be self-defeating now to keep Mohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Parvez Rasool away from ODI debuts in Bulawayo.

With India’s focus ideally shifting to giving the bench a run, what’s in it for Brendan Taylor and his men?

Plenty, as the Zimbabwe captain pointed out after the series was lost tamely in Harare.

Just getting the chance to play as many as five games against the world champions and top-ranked ODI side is huge in terms of exposure for Zimbabwe.

The series gone and, with the toss usually not as important in Bulawayo as it was in Harare, they might just be able to play more freely — especially someone like Taylor, who, as Zimbabwe’s best batsman, has appeared to bat under a lot of self-imposed pressure so far.

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