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Zimbabwe v India 1st ODI, Harare - Preview

Dhoni has an interesting challenge ahead when he picks his eleven against Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe v India 1st ODI, Harare - Preview - Cricket News
MS Dhoni walks back after being dismissed.
MS Dhoni will be faced with an interesting dilemma when India lines up for the first One-Day International against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday (June 11). 

The limited overs skipper hasn’t ever had to pick from a 16-member squad which comprises five uncapped players, and he hasn’t played in Zimbabwe since 2005. On the face of it, it may seem rather easy given results from previous series involving the two teams, but this time around, Dhoni will need to assess situations on far sterner grounds and rotate relatively unknown youngsters to get the best balance. A problem he hasn’t faced in the past.

Dhoni had insisted during the departure press conference that although these players haven’t played at an international level, they have enough experience of playing for India A and other high-profile competitions to survive the test.

The first one-dayer will provide a baseline for strategies going forward. Although it isn’t one we can bank on because rest assured Dhoni and Co will make plenty of changes to test the bench. It has been one of the features of India sides which have toured Zimbabwe in 2013 and 2015, and with the ICC Champions Trophy a year away, it gives the side all the more reason to put the second-string side to the test. 

Yuzvendra Chahal, Faiz Fazal, Mandeep Singh, Karun Nair and Jayant Yadav are the uncapped players in the side, but by virtue of their performances in domestic cricket and the Indian Premier League, they have become household names. This series, however, provides these five with a chance to sit pretty on the threshold and wait their turn. 

Zimbabwe, as you would expect, is taking things rather seriously, filling its team with some of the best talent it has. Perhaps its recent form in international cricket has something to do with it. Losing Tinashe Panyangara to a lower back injury will affect its chances, but it is placed well ahead of India on an experience count at this moment. 

It will also be a test for the new coaches at helm of both the sides. Sanjay Bangar was named interim coach of the Indian side and Makhaya Ntini replaced Dav Whatmore. The tour, comprising three ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals, will give them the chance to get into the role and possible nail a full-time role. 

Calls for Virat Kohli to be handed the limited-over reins have grown loud since before the IPL and it has only gotten louder since. How Dhoni and his band of young and the inexperienced go about their task could not only dictate the outcome of the opener and the series, but also the course which Indian cricket takes in the coming months. 

Teams (from)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wk), KL Rahul, Faiz Fazal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni, Axar Patel.

Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (captain), Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Neville Madziva, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Wellington Masakadza, Peter Moor, Twanada Mupariwa, Richard Mutumbami (wk), Taurai Muzarabani, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Sean Williams.

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