Youngistaan's tour of Zimbabwe: the Indian strategy
It is the first time since November 2011 when the Indian team is without its full strength, and this time India will be touring an African nation, Zimbabwe. Playing a home series without the services of the seniors does not demand experience, as you have the backing of your crowd. But this is not the case with an away series.
Last time when India toured Zimbabwe, it was for a tri-series involving familiar counterparts Sri Lanka and the home nation. Suresh Raina was appointed the captain of a young team and India failed to qualify for the finals, losing both games against Zimbabwe. This time, Suresh Raina is in the squad but he is not the captain. The young team will be led by the sweetheart of Indian girls, Virat Kohli.
This will be the first time Virat Kohli will be captaining the Indian side for a full series, and it will be a stern test for him. I guess we all know that captaining the Indian U19 team and captaining India are two completely different tasks. It will be interesting to see how he fares as captain in Zimbabwe.
Now let us focus on a few facts and players who will be key to India’s success in Zimbabwe.
1. The opening combination
Shikhar Dhawan announced his arrival to the world of cricket in style when he hit 2 consecutive centuries in the Champions Trophy, and was declared the Player of the Tournament. He was given ample support by Rohit Sharma, who was promoted up the order to find some form. It is believed that Rohit Sharma needs some time to get settled, and he has now become the Indian version of Misbah Ul Haq. With a new team around, this time India should demand Rohit to accelerate after playing 20 odd balls, as no team is weak nowadays in limited overs cricket.
2. The middle order
Cheteshwar Pujara has now been a regular member at number 3 in the Test squad for India. On the other hand, Virat Kohli has been batting for India in ODIs at number 3 since the end of the ICC World Cup in 2011. It will be nice to see the Indian strategy of who plays at number 3, since Pujara has been included in the squad. If I had to choose the Indian middle order, it would have to be: Pujara, Kohli, Karthik and Raina.
3. The all-rounder and bowling department
Ravindra Jadeja will be the first choice all-rounder in the squad, with Mohammed Shami and R Vinay Kumar likely to find the edge in the seam department because of their experience. With two more spots up for grabs, it will be a tough competition between Parveez Rasool, Jaydev Unadkat and Amit Mishra for the final place in the playing XI.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Suresh Raina, Ravindr a Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parveez Rasool/Jaydev Unadkat, R Vinay Kumar, Mohammed Shami.