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India vs Zimbabwe 1st ODI Match Prediction: How will the first ODI shape up at Harare?

Who will win the opening game of this bilateral series? India or Zimbabwe? Dhoni or Cremer? We predict and analyse here.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni has shown his eagerness as a leader by participating in this series

It's time for some good old 50 overs cricket for Team India after having played almost 5 months of non-stop T20 cricket. A second string India will lock horns with Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club in the capital.

The quaint stadium will host yet another low-key series with the hosts seeking some light in their never ending journey as the minnows of International cricket. This tour will provide them an ideal opportunity to upstage a side that is in the mood to experiment with their line-up.

Zimbabwe selectors surely have made right noises by selecting a full-strength side that threatens to pull off an upset or two on any given day. Given the fact that the ODI series itself is smallish with just 3 games in the offing, an upset in the first game can put the inexperienced visitors under a lot of pressure to stage a comeback.

Zimbabwe would take confidence from the fact that they have previously beaten India a few times at Harare, especially in that eventful tri-series involving Sri Lanka. They would want to strike the right balance here as they would realise this is as good a chance they will get to beat the Indians in a bilateral series.

Indians, on the other hand, have picked a team that is raw but has some serious potential. The selectors deserve an applause for their decision to provide rest to all the Test players barring KL Rahul ahead of the long four-match test series in the Caribbean.

MS Dhoni has shown his eagerness as a leader by participating in this series and the onus will be on him to shepherd his young boys to victory against the sprightful hosts. The fact that India will be playing 50 over cricket after a long time could also be a telling factor and the players might take a bit of time to get into the groove.

The visitors start favourites though against the unpredictable and inconsistent Zimbabweans. The team winning the toss in Harare should opt to field first.

Venue: Harare Sports Club

Match date: June 11, 2016

Match timings: 1230 hrs IST

If Zimbabwe bat first

Predicted score: 250 and above

Playing under a new captain, Graeme Cremer, Zimbabwe would want to start afresh this season and with a win ideally. The selectors have retained the core group even though there have been frequent changes on the leadership front for Zimbabwe.

Cremer who takes over from Masakadza is now the fourth captain appointed in the last 11 months and this highlights the indecision of the Zimbabwe selectors.

Vusi Sibanda is expected to open the innings with the veteran Hamilton Masakadza. These two have forged a dependable partnership in the last couple of years. The talented keeper-batsman Richmond Mutumbami will come in at no. 3 and will be expected to anchor the innings.

The hard-hitting southpaw Sean Williams and the Pakistan-born Sikander Raza will add some solidity to the middle order. Another ex-captain, Elton Chigumbura will be expected to throw caution to the winds in the death overs with his belligerent strokeplay.

Bowling looks par for the Zimbabweans. Tendai Chatara will share the new ball with Donald Tiripano. A lot will be expected from Chatara who has played a fair bit of international cricket. If the new ball bowlers can take a couple of early wickets India could very soon be staring at a rare defeat.

Wellington Masakadza, the younger brother of Hamilton, should get a game here and is expected to bowl his off-spin in tandem with Graeme Cremer, the leg-spinner. The Zimbabwe skipper will be expected to hold it together for the hosts and on a sluggish Harare wicket, he could be a handful.

Expect Sean Williams to bowl his tidy left-arm spin with guile and accuracy. The Indians have to be wary of this spin troika in this all-important opening game.

If India bat first

Predicted score: 270 and above

kl rahul
 KL Rahul will be a certainty in the playing eleven

It will be interesting to see India's approach in this series and it will all boil down to the final eleven they select. KL Rahul will be a certainty in the playing eleven and Faiz Fazal could make his debut for team India.

MS Dhoni, however, could spring a surprise by getting the Punjab batsman Mandeep Singh to open. Mandeep is a known face in the Indian Premier League whereas not much is known about Fazal who plays his cricket for Vidarbha.

Manish Pandey who scored a hundred in the last ODI that India played at Sydney will surely get a spot in the eleven and so should Ambati Rayudu. Rayudu might come in at no. 3 with Pandey slotted at 4. Karun Nair has a strong chance to make his debut tomorrow with Kedar Jadhav, who got a century in the previous Zimbabwe tour, giving him stiff competition.

A lot will depend on MS Dhoni as well and he would like to farm the strike towards the fag end of the innings. If Dhoni gets going the final total can catapult to something very defendable.

On the bowling front, Jasprit Bumrah should open the bowling with Dhawal Kulkarni. Both these lads were pretty impressive in the recently concluded IPL and this series will provide them ample opportunities to stamp their authority in this format of the game.

Barinder Sran could be the third seamer and he would definitely add some variety to this young and exciting pace attack. On the spin front, Axar Patel will be expected to feature in the eleven and his primary job will be to keep chipping away at the wickets.

Yuzuvendra Chahal could be another debutant and his leg spin should be extremely handy on the Harare sports Club wicket. Expect the visitors to maintain a clinical approach and beat the hosts comfortably in this opening encounter.

Probable Winners: India 

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