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Battered India seek redemption

Friday, June 11, 2021
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After handing away the tri-series trophy to Sri Lanka, India and Zimbabwe will now compete in two back-to-back Twenty20 games in Harare. While the comprehensive victories over India in the tri-series have given the hosts a huge psychological advantage going into the T20s, the only way for a demoralized young Team India from here is up.

Zimbabwe

Despite the final loss to Lanka, Chigumbura’s men will be buoyant as they take the field on Saturday for the first Twenty20 contest. Not only have they comprehensively beaten India twice in a row, they showed great consistency in the tri-series, especially in the batting department.


In-form opening pair of Brendon Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza could prove to be the biggest thorn in India's flesh. © AFP

The most valuable player of the tri-series, Brendan Taylor has been a revelation and along with opening partner Hamilton Masakadza takes a lot of credit for Zimbabwe’s dream run in the series. If the two carry their form into the shortest format, they’ll prove to be the biggest thorns in India’s flesh.

For most of the matches, the hosts went in with three spinners – Price, Utseya and Cremer – on slow wickets and they were successful in stifling the batsmen for runs. It won’t be a surprise if they go with the same ploy in the T20s, with Mpofu and Lamb as their strike bowlers and Chigumbura filling in with his medium pacers.

Zimbabwe built beautifully on their T20 victories over Pakistan and Australia in the World Twenty20 warm-up games to dish out an inspiring performance in the ODI series, and now is their time to deliver once again in the 20-over game.

India

Looking at the way things have gone for Raina’s boys so far, it would be really hard for them to lift both their morale and performance.

While the team has failed to click as a unit, it wouldn’t be unfair to put a considerable amount of blame on the batsmen, given their relatively greater experience as compared to the bowlers. India’s batting woes start from their openers, who have failed on every single occasion on the tour so far. While one feels Murali Vijay has got his share of chances, it would be only fair to give Naman Ojha a go in the T20 format, despite his failure in his debut ODI game.

While Rohit and Virat would be rightly expected to make the most of their good form, the other batsmen cannot shrug off their responsibility. They need to make their presence felt and contribute to the team’s cause.

Bowling is probably the weakest link of the team and the fine display of batsmanship from the Zimbabwe batsmen has only made their task tougher. While the spinners – regular and part-timers alike – have done a decent job, it’s the pace department that is the cause of worry. The two rookie strike bowlers are likely to come under pressure, as the batsmen will be going after them during the powerplay. It’s time for Raina’s boys to show some steel.

Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (wk), Hamilton Mazakadza, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura (capt), Charles Coventry, Tatenda Taibu, Greg Lamb, Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Ray Price, Chris Mpofu

India: Dinesh Karthik (wk), Naman Ojha/Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina (capt), Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, R Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav

 


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