November 12, 2000

Streak's Zimbabweans all set for Faridabad encounter

The Zimbabweans are now ready to move into a higher gear. Having used their first warm up game, against the National Cricket Academy at Indore for practice, they are now looking to go into the Test series with a win under their belts. When they take on the Board President's XI at the Nahar Singh Stadium in Faridabad they will come out with all guns blazing. Heath Streak, the captain of the side is keen to have a go and will have with him Grant Flower, Mluleki Nkala and Brian Murphy who are yet to have a game in this series thus far.

Zimbabwe will square up with a Board President's XI side led by Pune allrounder Hrishikesh Kanitkar. The Board President's XI team has in its ranks a number of India discards and hopefuls. Leading the list of hopefuls is Tamil Nadu southpaw Hemang Badani. Having tasted success, Badani will no doubt be keen to make his way back into the team. Ravneet Ricky has done gloriously in domestic and age group cricket and he too will be trying to catch the selectors' eye. Stumper Vijay Dahiya met with moderate success when recently picked for India but is in danger of being branded a One-Day cricketer.

The discards list is long and undistinguished. Tamil Nadu offspinner Aashish Kapoor, the skipper himself Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Vijay Bharadwaj, Debashish Mohanty and Rahul Sanghvi make up that list. Of this list, one might just see Kapoor sneak into the Indian side if he can pick up some wickets in this game.

For Heath Streak however, the coming match remains an opportunity to try out all his players before the Tests begin. "Some of the guys have made runs in the previous games and we'd obviously like to give some of those who haven't had the opportunity a fair chance to prove themselves before the Test," he said. Although the Zimabweans had not yet decided who would sit out, it looked likely that Alistair Campbell, Travis Friend, Paul Strang and Bryan Strang would sit out. Paul Strang gives way to young leg spinner Brian Murphy who has just arrived in India after completing his university exams. Bryan Strang is having some dental problems and that could keep him out.

Going back to the fact that Zimbabwe play very little first class cricket back home, Streak said "every game is important and the fact that we get to play very little first class makes it all the more important. No one likes to go into a Test match without spending some time at the crease and that's a vital component in this game as well." Streak was also positive about Zimbabwe's chances in the Test series. He takes heart from the fact that he and Olonga are fit to play and are well supported by Travis Friend. He was also convinced that the presence of two quality leg spinners in the squad would bolster Zimbabwe's chances. "We should be able to take twenty wickets on a wicket that has something in it for the bowlers. In the past we have gotten into positions from which we should have won, but just did not have the depth in bowling. That has changed with the arrival of some quality young players in the scene" he added.

Roger Binny, who is here as the coach of the Board President's XI side too was confident that a good game of cricket was in the offing. He stressed the need for players to make strong cases for national selection and said that this would spur them on to greater heights.

Tomorrow, both teams will make the long journey from the Taj Palace Hotel to the Nahar Singh Stadium in Faridabad. Having taken the trouble to reach that far - it takes as long as one and a half hours in traffic, they will be keen to put up a good display.