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Opportunity for India to try out new players

Zimbabwe might have conceded the series, but the dangling carrot of an elusive win should drive it in third ODI

Opportunity for India to try out new players - Cricket News
The series is all wrapped up. India overcame the jitters in the first One-Day International to register a narrow four-run win, and then managed to brush Zimbabwe aside by 62 runs in the second match, despite playing patchy cricket at times, to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series. And so, when the two teams clash in the final ODI in Harare on Tuesday (July 14), the motivations of the two sets of players will be vastly different.
 
Having rested most of its senior players, India’s objective with this tour was primarily to gauge the strength of its bench. To that end, it wouldn’t be disappointed, especially after the second ODI, when M Vijay, so impressive in Test cricket over the last two years, came good in the shorter format.
 
Vijay scored a 95-ball 72, and seemed particularly comfortable in partnering Ajinkya Rahane. The two scored 112 for the opening wicket, a patient alliance that laid a solid platform before the middle order lost its way for India to post 271 for 8. Zimbabwe was then bowled out 209, with the wily Bhuvneshwar Kumar returning 4 for 33 on a sluggish pitch. 
 
With the series in the pocket, India is likely to make a couple of changes come Tuesday. One of them will be forced. Ambati Rayudu, who scored a 133-ball 124 to help India win the first ODI, injured his right quadriceps in the second ODI and will be out of action for up to three weeks. Sanju Samson, the 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, was named as his replacement and is in line to make his international debut if he can settle down in time.
 
The chances of Manish Pandey and Sandeep Sharma making their respective debuts are good too. For long Pandey has been in the fringes of the national team – he came agonisingly close to a debut when he was included in the squad for the one-off Twenty20 International against West Indies last year, but the series was called off.
 
The pace attack could also see a shuffle. Sandeep earned first call-up following impressive spells in the Indian Premier League, where his ability to swing the ball was particularly evident. On Tuesday, he could prove an able ally for Mohit Sharma.
 
With India likely to ring in the changes, Zimbabwe have its best chance to arrest the losing streak. It lost the two T20Is and two of its ODIs on their tour of Pakistan – the third ODI was washed out – and has lost both matches to India’s second-string side so far.
 
It doesn’t help that Zimbabwe’s best players have been carrying injuries. Its bowling was average in the second game without Tinashe Panyangara, while Sean Williams, the all-rounder, twisted his knee in the field and wasn’t at his best either – he had to take painkillers and put on strapping when he batted. A decision on Williams will be taken on the morning of the match, depending on the results of the scans taken on Monday morning. 
 
Vusi Sibanda’s form has also been a concern – his highest score in his last five innings is an unbeaten 28 – and Zimbabwe might opt to tinker with the batting line-up, with Malcolm Waller and Regis Chakabva in line to be drafted in to the playing XI.
 
It may be a dead rubber on paper, but both sides have their own reasons to take the clash seriously. The Indian fringe players will want to make use of an important opportunity. For Zimbabwe, there’s the dangling carrot of an elusive victory.
 
Teams (from)
India: 
M Vijay, Robin Uthappa (wk), Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny, Harbhajan Singh, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohit Sharma, Manish Pandey, Sandeep Sharma, Sanju Samson.

Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva (wk), Graeme Cremer, Neville Madziva, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Donald Tiripano, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams.

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