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India eyes bench strength for Bulawayo ODI

With series already in the bag, India could bring in Pujara and Mohit Sharma for the fourth ODI against Zimbabwe

India eyes bench strength for Bulawayo ODI
 - Cricket News
With the series already in the kitty, India will look to hand Cheteshwar Pujara his debut ODI cap.
There are two ways of looking at how India’s selectors have approached the One-Day International series against Zimbabwe thus far, as it heads into the fourth ODI at Bulawayo on Thursday (August 1), with the series already sealed.
 
The first, more understanding, view is that they have given a proper chance to the 11 players who are most likely to challenge for places in the first-choice side when tougher challenges arrive later this year.
 
The more critical analysis is that they have been too conservative, placing too much emphasis on winning the first three games in neglecting to share the opportunities around in what was seen as a fairly experimental squad. The world knows that India can thump Zimbabwe, even in their own backyard, and it has failed to truly challenge itself in fielding the same side for three straight games. What has India actually learned?
 
India’s players have remained tight-lipped about their intentions throughout - Shikhar Dhawan and Amit Mishra batted away questions about possible experimentation after the second and third ODIs with the standard ‘that is for team management’ line. Dinesh Karthik applied the technique on Wednesday.
 
“I have no idea what the team management is looking at, but I can definitely say we are looking forward to doing as well as we can because it’s a great opportunity for all of us,” said Karthik.
 
However changes appeared to be afoot for the fourth ODI at Queens Sports Club on the morrow.
 
While Shikhar Dhawan settled for a few late throw-downs, Cheteshwar Pujara enjoyed a long net at the start of the session. And while R Vinay Kumar took no part in the training session beyond a goalkeeping role in the soccer warm-up and a few shuttle-runs, Mohit Sharma steamed in at good pace in the nets.
 
Logically those are the two most likely changes for Thursday, and the Zimbabweans are expecting to face a different side.
 
“I'm sure they might experiment with a few players,” said Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwe captain. “They've got some quality players who haven't even played. Like ourselves, I'm sure there are a few guys to try out and see how they're going to front up.”
 
Taylor confirmed that Zimbabwe is likely to retain its strategy of fielding three specialist seamers in the hope that it wins the toss and can make early inroads.
 
Zimbabwe’s pitches all lack definitive character and so conditions for the two matches at Queens will be almost identical to those in the first three at Harare Sports Club. The only real difference is that a southerly wind has brought something of a cold snap over the past couple of days.
 
“It’s going to be very similar, it’s just a little colder than Harare I thought,” said Karthik. “I don’t know what the day’s going to be like, but when it gets cold it is cold.”
 
That is about as far out of its comfort zones as India has been on an otherwise friendly tour, and Zimbabwe will need to dig deeper if it is going to cause India any discomfort.
 
“Our bowlers haven't done much wrong,” explained Taylor. “They've been in good form and if we'd held our catches they would have had a lot more reward. They've been doing the right things. I think the batters need to back them up a little better, and certainly in the field we could be sharper.”
 
To that end Zimbabwe is likely to drop Malcolm Waller, who has had a horror series thus far, and bring in Timycen Maruma.
 
Although Maruma made his ODI debut as far back as 2007, he has played just eight matches, and none since March 2010.
 
“He's a guy who hits the ball extremely well,” said Taylor. “He's a young guy, and a very talented guy so hopefully he gets a run. We haven't discussed our team just yet, but we'll be doing that straight after training with the convenor of selectors. But there's some youthful talent waiting in the wings so I'll be glad to see them get a good run.”
 
Teams (from):

Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (capt, wk), Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Michael Chinouya, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Natsai M’shangwe, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.
 
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parveez Rasool, Mohammed Shami, R Vinay Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma.

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