India look to hit their stride as reinforcements arrive

Zimbabwe

Big picture

After a rust-ridden defeat in a low-scoring first T20I, India reasserted themselves the next day, showing just how high their ceiling can be with both bat and ball.

Zimbabwe remain dangerous opponents, nonetheless, but one with clear limitations, and if they already had an arduous task ahead of them to convert 1-1 into a series win, it has only become harder. India will be strengthened with the arrival of three players who were part of their victorious T20 World Cup campaign: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson and Shivam Dube.

Zimbabwe will need to be smart about how they approach the remainder of this series. They’ll need to keep drilling the basics – dropped catches may have exaggerated their margin of defeat in the second T20I – but they’ll also need to be realistic with their ambitions and understand that young players – they left out experienced seniors such as Sean Williams and Craig Ervine for this series – will take time to come into their own.

“A lot of mistakes our youngsters have made have been due to lack of [experience] and not so much to do with their skills, so that’s a positive as well,” Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said after the second T20I. “As they play, as they continue to find their feet in international cricket, they’ll learn. We all have been there.”

Form guide

Zimbabwe LWWLL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
India WLWWW

In the spotlight

In two innings so far in this series, Brian Bennett has made a 15-ball 22 and a nine-ball 26. He has shown he is one of the potential game-changers in this Zimbabwe side with his clean striking at No. 3 and his offspin, and he could yet win them a game or two in this series, particularly if he gets to spend a good amount of time at the crease.

He didn’t get to play a match during India’s World Cup campaign, and missed the first two games of this series because he was part of their celebrations back home. Now it’s finally time for Sanju Samson. He’s only played 25 T20Is in the nearly nine years since his debut, but now he’s potentially locked in for three back-to-back games and will hope he can make the best of the opportunity.

Team news

Zimbabwe captain Raza is averse to chopping and changing as a reaction to Sunday’s defeat, but he said after the game that the left-arm seamer Richard Ngarava would come in if he cleared a fitness test. “If he’s fit to go, he’s straight back in.”

Zimbabwe XI (probable): 1 Innocent Kaia, 2 Wessly Madhevere, 3 Brian Bennett, 4 Dion Myers, 5 Sikandar Raza (capt), 6 Johnathan Campbell, 7 Clive Madande (wk), 8 Wellington Masakadza, 9 Luke Jongwe/Richard Ngarava, 10 Blessing Muzarabani, 11 Tendai Chatara.

The returns of Jaiswal, Samson and Dube complicate India’s selection. Jaiswal is set to come in for B Sai Sudharsan, who made his debut in the second T20I but didn’t get to face a ball, but will he open or bat in the middle order? And who will Dube displace? Samson’s case is simpler; he will likely replace his Rajasthan Royals team-mate Dhruv Jurel. Whatever combination India go with, they could find themselves with at least two top-order players batting lower than their preferred slots.

India XI (probable): 1 Abhishek Sharma, 2 Shubman Gill (capt), 3 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 4 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Sanju Samson (wk), 7 Rinku Singh, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Avesh Khan, 11 Mukesh Kumar.

Pitch and conditions

On the eve of the match, India batter Ruturaj Gaikwad summed up the conditions at Harare Sports Club succinctly in his pre-match press conference.

“Yes, definitely the conditions are challenging,” he said. “It is a bit unique. When there is some seam movement, you can still negotiate it if it is coming at one pace. But I feel it is a little double-paced here, there is a little variable bounce. So, there is a bit of difference because of that. [As long as] the ball is new, it is slightly tougher to score runs, but once the ball is old, fast boundaries, relatively small boundaries straight, you can still convert your runs after that.”

The forecast for Wednesday promises a clear, sunny day with maximum temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius.

Stats and trivia

  • Raza needs 32 runs to become the first Zimbabwe batter to reach the milestone of 2000 in T20Is.
  • Jaiswal (161.93) is one of only five Full Member batters to have scored more than 500 T20I runs at a 160-plus strike rate. Suryakumar Yadav (167.74), Phil Salt (165.11), Andre Russell (163.70) and Tim David (162.75) are the others.
  • Any of five bowlers could finish this series on top of Zimbabwe’s list of highest T20I wicket-takers. Luke Jongwe leads the pack with 66, but Tendai Chatara (65), Raza (63), Blessing Muzarabani (62) and Richard Ngarava (62) are all hot on his heels.
  • Harare has hosted nine of the 10 T20Is Zimbabwe have played against India so far, and it’s set to become 12 out of 13 by the time this series is done. The only other ground they have met at in this format is the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the 2022 T20 World Cup.
  • Quotes

    “We’re a nation that are very quick to ask for changes suddenly when there is a bad game. Let’s not forget that 24 hours ago these boys were the same ones who won us a game against India […] I’m not a big believer of ringing too many changes just because these boys have had a bad game […] I want to show that faith, selectors want us to show that faith, the board wants us to show that faith as well, so I think we’re all on the same page in that.”
    Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza reiterates his faith in his players after their 100-run defeat in the second T20I

    “This is a massive topic. Thinking about this topic also is not the right point. To even compare with him and fill in his shoes is relatively very tough and very hard. As I had said in the IPL as well, it is difficult to fill Mahi bhai [MS Dhoni]’s shoes. Definitely, you want to start your own career, you want to play your own games. That is the priority right now, focus on one game, focus on how you can contribute towards the team in whichever position you play and make sure you are on the winning side more often than not.”
    Ruturaj Gaikwad on filling Virat Kohli’s shoes at No. 3

    Karthik Krishnaswamy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

    Products You May Like

    Articles You May Like

    Suryakumar over Hardik: ‘The captain should be on the park,’ says Agarkar
    Nayar, ten Doeschate set to join India’s support staff as assistant coaches
    Thushara out of India T20Is with broken finger
    Suryakumar confirmed as India’s T20I captain for Sri Lanka tour
    IPL franchises eye controlling stakes in Hundred teams

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *