IT was meant to be a morale-boosting workout before the five-match one-day international (ODI) cricket series against India, but Zimbabwe’s batting department was left soul-searching after a disappointing display in the three-day match against Australia A at Harare Country Club.
Zimbabwe were exposed against both seas and spin with Australia A needing just one session of the third day on Saturday to wrap up an 80-run victory, after setting them a gettable target of 241 runs to win.
In two successive innings, Zimbabwe’s batsmen failed to post a total in excess of 200 after being bundled out for 142 and 160 in both innings respectively.
Hamilton Masakadza was the only batsman to record a half-century in the match with night watchman Kyle Jarvis’ fighting 34 in the second innings, the second best contribution with the bat in both innings.
While Zimbabwe’s batting department looked out of sorts, their seam bowling department provided the silver lining with a promising display against a strong Australian line-up featuring four capped Test players.
The pace trio of Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara and Elton Chigumbura showed very good form, claiming 17 of the 20 Australia A wickets to fall in both innings.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday, national team captain Brendan Taylor praised the bowlers for putting up a strong display, but admitted that the batsmen needed to step up if Zimbabwe are to do well against India.
“Obviously the result didn’t go the way we would have wanted, but the match against Australia was definitely a good workout ahead of the India series,” said Taylor.
“The bowlers were excellent against a very strong batting department, managing to restrict them to small totals in both innings and can take some positives from that ahead of the India series.
“Unfortunately our batting was not as good and we didn’t manage to get the runs as we would have liked, but the match practice was important for us and can only take us forward going into the India series,” said Taylor.
India arrived in Harare yesterday evening ahead of the first ODI on Wednesday and Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) communications manager Lovemore Banda said his organisation was ready to make the best out of this tour.
“We have left no stone unturned in our preparations,” said Banda, adding: “It is not every day that we host India and so we are doing our best to ensure that we derive maximum benefits from the tour.”
ZC will host a dinner at a Harare hotel this evening, and cricket fans are expected to buy tickets for the function for an opportunity to mix with the world champions.
Tomorrow, the India squad will conduct a coaching clinic for first-team players from 11 Harare schools, in a new ZC development initiative dubbed the Future Zimbabwe Stars Programme, which will see local and visiting national teams going out to help school cricketers with their game.
India Squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parvez Rasool, Mohammed Shami, Vinay Kumar, Jaidev Unadkat and Mohit Sharma.
Zimbabwe squad: Brendan Taylor (captain & wk), Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Michael Chinouya, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Natsai M’shangwe, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams