Zimbabwe, India look to future in T20 series

Published July 6, 2024
Shubman Gill will captain a second-string Indian team in a five-match Twenty20 international series against Zimbabwe. — AFP
Shubman Gill will captain a second-string Indian team in a five-match Twenty20 international series against Zimbabwe. — AFP

HARARE: Zimbabwe and India will be looking to the future when they start a five-match Twe­nty20 Intern­ational series here at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

All the matches will be played in Harare on July 6, 7, 10, 13 and 14.

Outgoing Indian coach Rahul Dravid described India’s win in the T20 World Cup in Barbados last Saturday as the end of “a journey of two years”.

With the next T20 World Cup scheduled for India and Sri Lanka in 2026, the series in Zimbabwe marks the start of a new two-year journey for both the sides.

But whereas India will be seeking to build on last weekend’s triumph, Zimb­abwe need to start again after failing to qualify for the recent global event. They were squeezed out by Namibia and Uganda in the Africa region qualifier in Namibia last November.

None of India’s World Cup winners will be in action in the first two matches on Saturday and Sunday but squad members Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shivam Dube and Sanju Samson will be available for the last three games.

The trio returned to India with the rest of the World Cup squad after their departure from Barb­ados was delayed by a hurricane.

Sai Sudharsan, Jitesh Sharma and Harshit Rana were named as replacements for the first two matches.

Shubman Gill will captain a second-string Indian team. He is one of several players who can stake an early claim to fill the gap left by star batsmen Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who announced their retirement from T20Is after victory in Barbados.

Another player who needs to be replaced all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who also quit the shortest international format.

Riyan Parag and Rana, both 22, and Abhishek Sharma, 23, are in line to win their first international caps.

With India yet to announce a long-term successor to Dravid, interim coach V.V.S. Laxman will be in charge in Harare.

Zimbabwe have a new coach in Justin Sammons, who was previously South Africa’s batting coach.

Zimbabwe named a larg­ely youthful squad. Captain Sikander Raza, 38, is the only player aged over 30.

Wessly Madhevere and Brandon Mavuta return to international action after serving a ban for recreational drug use.

Notably absent are Craig Ervine and Sean Williams, two of five players jettisoned after Zim­b­abwe’s recent T20 series, a 4-1 loss away against Bang­ladesh.

Squads:

ZIMBABWE: Sikander Raza (captain), Faraz Akram, Brian Bennett, Johnathon Campbell, Tendai Chatara, Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Brandon Mavuta, Blessing Muzarabani, Dion Myers, Antum Naqvi, Richard Ngarava, Milton Shumba

INDIA (for first two matches only): Shubman Gill (captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Abhishek Sharma, Rinku Singh, Dhruv Jurel (wicket-keeper), Riyan Parag, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan, Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Tushar Deshpande, Sai Sudharsan, Jitesh Sharma (wicket-keeper), Harshit Rana.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2024

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