Interim coach Makhaya Ntini has blasted the practice followed by international teams of not sending their best teams to play in Zimbabwe, also issuing a threat to the Indian team which are embarking on a series there from Saturday onwards. He has promised to bury the second-string side sent, so that teams reconsider not sending their best players for subsequent tours to the country.
While captain MS Dhoni has played a total of 275 ODIs, the rest of the squad cumulatively have 83 matches to their credit. Apart from Ambati Rayudu (31 matches) and Axar Patel (22 matches), the others have a total of 30 matches to their names. Being asked to comment on this, Ntini retorted with force, “If you send us a team that is not your strongest team, we're going to put them under the carpet.”
He also spoke about how this is detrimental for the state of the cricket in Zimbabwe, who have fallen significantly from the highs of the late 90s and early 00s, when Ntini himself had been making his mark as a player for South Africa.
"We're sick and tired of waiting around for South Africa to send their A team," he said. "We want to compete with the big boys. We're creating a new venture here. We want to make sure that this country gets to play more games, and if you send us a team that is not your strongest team, we're going to put them under the carpet so that they go home and tell people that they need to send their strongest team."
Ntini is part of a new coaching set-up instated in the Zimbabwe dressing room. With him are Lance Klusener and Tatenda Taibu. The team has a new captain in Graeme Cremer.
The Indian team management has consistently rested several high-profile players on tours to the African country, as a result of which this shall be MS Dhoni’s first tour of Zimbabwe since 2005, when Sourav Ganguly had still been captain. Results have not been too adversely affected, however, on the proof of the 5-0 whitewash in 2013 and 3-0 whitewash in 2015.
The stakes for the Indian XI will definitely be very high, despite the second-string billing that it enters the competition with. As can be vouched by Cheteshwar Pujara, Manoj Tiwary and Robin Uthappa, an unimpressive tour of Zimbabwe can mean the end of one’s limited overs career.