INDIAN captain Virat Kohli has dismissed the notion that the upcoming cricket series against Zimbabwe would be a one-sided affair, saying he expects a tough outing against the hosts ahead of the opening match of the five-match one-day internationals at Harare Sports Club this morning.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The stylish top-order batsman, who is leading India in absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was part of the touring side that lost two consecutive matches to Zimbabwe in 2010.
With India coming into the series with a depleted side missing top spinner R Ashwin, and frontline pacers Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, Kohli said they would not be taking any chances.
Addressing reporters during yesterday’s pre-match media conference, Kohli said Zimbabwe had talented players in their ranks so his charges would have to work hard to win the series.
“Zimbabwe beat us the last time we came here, so we know we’re going to get some tough competition from them,” he said. “We won’t take them lightly. It’s going to be a competitive series, we have to play well if we want to win and all the guys in the team know that,” Kohli said.
While Kohli said his side would take a cautious approach, his opposite number Brendan Taylor said his charges were keen to put all the hard work they had done into practice and local cricket fans should brace for some entertaining cricket.
“The fans should expect some entertaining cricket. We’ve had nine solid weeks of constructive training and it’s time to go out there and execute what we have been working on.
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“We are all excited, but we want to put forward a positive brand of cricket and there’s no better team to do it than against India.
We’ve have some success in the past at home against India so hopefully you can continue that way,” Taylor said.
Zimbabwe will have continuity on their side as some of their senior players such as Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya and Elton Chigumbura were all part of the team that shocked India two years ago.
India also have some survivors of their own from that series with Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Vinay Kumar all featuring in that series.
Kohli, who will lead a strong batting line-up that also includes Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, said the input of Zimbabwean coaches Duncan Fletcher and Trevor Penny had been invaluable.
“He (Duncan Fletcher) has a lot of experience here, but we came here in 2010 so we have a fair idea of conditions, how the wicket behaves in the morning and later in the day.
“Guys who have played here before have shared that input, but Duncan has been a great help not just for this series, but overall since he’s been coach.
“He had really difficult times initially and was criticised a lot, but he’s stuck with the team and stayed strong and we’ve seen the results now.
“We’ve really benefiting from all the experience he has — he has the best cricketing brain in the world and just has so much knowledge about the game. Him and Trevor Penney are both really excited to be here because they haven’t been here for a while, so it’s a good feeling to have both of them who’ve played here, helping us in that department” Kohli said.
Teams India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parveez Rasool, Shami Ahmed, R Vinay Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma. Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (capt), Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Michael Chinouya, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Natsai M’shangwe, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams