The stand-in captain of a vastly weakened new-look India cricket side Ajinkya Rahane is cautious as his team bids for a successful tour of Zimbabwe with the one-day international (ODI) series set to begin tomorrow at Harare Sports Club.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Rahane, a top-order right-hand batsman, has been handed a colossal task of leading the Asian cricket giants, albeit a second string squad, for the Zimbabwe tour as India seek to put behind an ignominious ODI defeat to minnows Bangladesh last month.
India, without a substantive coach after director of cricket Ravi Shastri who was in charge in Bangladesh failed to make the trip, are currently in the country for a two-week-long tour that involves three ODIs and two T20s.
In his first Press conference in Zimbabwe at the match venue on Wednesday, the 27-year-old skipper revealed that the objective for his young side was to give 100% during the series.
“We have a pretty young side here, so it’s a good opportunity for all the youngsters to do well at international level because most of them have done well in the domestic season at home and in the IPL [Indian Premier League],” he said.
“We all know that Zimbabwe is a good side, they have played well recently. We are expecting a good series here, three ODIs and two T20s. So the boys are looking forward to the series and we are not taking Zimbabwe lightly, we respect them and are looking forward to playing good cricket,” Rahane added.
India, who almost pulled out of the tour to Zimbabwe, decided to rest most of their key players with substantive captain MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, among others, conspicuous by their absence.
Commenting on the Bangladeshi disappointment where he had a forgettable tour himself, Rahane declared that it was all in the past.
“Bangladesh is the past for us now. We are thinking about the present series and our plan is to back our strengths, back our game rather than looking on Zimbabwe’s strengths. The plan will be to play on our strengths, give our best and play in accordance with what we have,” he said.
India, however, look strong in the bowling department with medium-pacers Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma having been retained, and uncapped Sandeep Sharma joining them.
Veteran spinner Harbajan Singh made a comeback into the India team and will look to torment Zimbabwe as he has done in the past. The Asian country is ranked second on the ICC ODI rankings as only a 3-0 whitewash victory will be enough to keep second, while any other result will see them slide further down.