Zimbabwe v India, 1st ODI, Harare July 23, 2013

'We might surprise them in one of the games' - Waller

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Zimbabwe coach Andy Waller was cautiously optimistic about his team's chances in the five-match ODI series against India starting on Wednesday, which also marks his first international assignment as head coach. Waller took over from Steve Mangongo, who had held the position in a caretaker's role until the end of the home series against Bangladesh in May.

"All along we've prepared and hoped we might surprise them in one of the games," Waller said. "You've got to be realistic, but as long as we're competitive and do the best we can.

"Our guys are hugely excited about this. It's a great experience for them, and we've been preparing knowing that the best side in the world are coming. I think the guys are up for it. Hopefully all the hard work we've put in in the last nine weeks is going to pay off."

Waller also confirmed that veteran left-arm spinner Ray Price is part of the Zimbabwe squad. "Price is in the squad, I don't know why he wasn't named in the original list," said Waller after the team's nets session on Monday.

While Price has been included, it is highly likely that this series will be his last for Zimbabwe. The 37 year-old has played just one international this year, and with national contracts up for renewal soon, the departure of one of their most experienced players seems imminent.

Price's 140-game international career stretches all the way back to 1999. He appeared to have been lost to Zimbabwe when he took up a contract with Worcestershire following the clash between the board and players in 2004 but he decided to return to the fold in 2008 and since then has embodied the team's tenacious spirit. He has helped to instil some backbone to the bowling group during some difficult years and Zimbabwe probably owe him the chance to say goodbye.

A couple of India's senior players are absent from this trip, foremost among them their captain MS Dhoni, but Waller stressed the visitors' strength in depth and rejected any idea that Zimbabwe considered the squad a depleted one.

"I think they've just got so many players," he said. "With the new guys who've come in, I don't think there's a huge difference to be honest. We know that they're all very good cricketers, so we don't look at it like a weakened attack at all."

Waller has been working with a training squad for the last two months, having brought in Yorkshire fitness coach Tom Summers following the departure of long-time trainer Lorraine Chivandire. Waller has made fitness one of his top priorities and Zimbabwe's intensive training session, which stretched over several hours, was at odds with India's.

The visitors will still have been slightly jet-lagged, having arrived on Sunday night, and were tasked with nothing more than some light fielding and a relaxed football match during their afternoon session.

Apart from their training camp, Zimbabwe's preparations included a three-day game against Australia A this weekend that the visitors won by 80 runs. Zimbabwe's batsmen failed to complement the hard work of their bowlers, who had utilised the bowler-friendly Country Club pitch very well.

Waller suggested that the batsmen would have an easier time at the Harare Sports Club, where the first three ODIs will be played before moving to Bulawayo.

"We're not shaken at all," insisted Waller. "It was quite an interesting wicket [at Country Club], quite a difficult wicket. I think the guys are actually quite positive about it, because they were a damn good bowling side. And I think we know it's a lot harder batting on the wicket there than it will be at Sports Club. "

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on July 23, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    They could have added a couple of T-20's at least

  • Sir_Ivor on July 23, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    This Zimbabwe side is certainly on the way up. India would be well advised to play their very best because, Zimbabwe look pretty good and are playing at home. I expect Parvez Rasool,Shami Ahmed and Mohit Sharma to make a big mark on the Indian side.A good series in prospect.

  • gsingh7 on July 23, 2013, 16:15 GMT

    al the best to both team .cud see a whitewash of zimbabwe by best team in the world. i dont see them competing , unlike what their coach tries to convey us. we know indian players will play to their full potential to seal their place in the team.

  • Troyd on July 23, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    " we MIGHT win ONE game", love the optimism Andy! while it might be realistic, better to keep things vague than say that- though in fairness he does go on to say the real aim is 'to be competitive' .. and thats better put. I will be watching the fielding closley. we have a tradition of being excellent, while recently we have been abysmal. This will be a key measure of Wallers short term impact. For those with their knives out for Mr Waller, please judge him by sensible standards. Don't compare the final results of this series against your Fantasy Results, compare them with recent performances of this same squad, & bear in mind the opposition! i would be happy with a 4-1 loss, if progress was shown in the fielding - (and i can say that because i'm not the manager).

  • dummy4fb on July 23, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    I don't understand how people term this team as a NEW one/ experimental one... Most of these players in the squad have had previous experience of playing in national colours albeit unsuccessfully... so it is more of a chance for the fringe players to strike a reminder to the selectors of their capabilities... as far as pujara is concerned, we all know that he is very much a capable limited overs player and it doesn't take an Einstein to understand that he is managed in the right way by the selectors-warm him up with this series and then utilize him fully on the tour to SA which is the top priority for india...

  • 777aditya on July 23, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    still cant forget the horror of a series Raina captained last time in Zimbabwe

  • dummy4fb on July 23, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    India lost both game against Zim when they toured last time under Raina captaincy..Don`t see much changes with the Indian team compared to last time.However selectors could have given chances for senior players like gambir,sehwag,yuvraj,bhajji and zaheer to prove their match fitness and get used to foriegn conditions.The upcoming SA tour has 7 odi`s and this Zim tour could have been used as a platform for seniors to stage a comeback.

  • ZCFOutkast on July 23, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    A lot hinges on the magic a healthy Vitori can whip with his left hand. If he hits the right areas, enough damage will be done early to ensure Utseya&Chigumbura suffocate the Indian middle order later on. Elton is very proficient against left handers, so with Raina&Jadeja a huge part of it, I can't see India recovering from the loses of Pujara, Dhawan&Kholi once Vitori is done. If I were Taylor, I'd be more than happy to let Rohit 'Misbah' Sharma bat through!

    Should Price play? Yes, I think he should play all 3 games in Harare alongside Utseya. It's pretty clear one from Jarvis/Chatara/Chinouya will regularly partner Vitori, so runs are in the offing for the Indians if they bat long.

    Once the series heads to Bulawayo it would be wise to drop all present seamers in the squad and bring back Mpofu, Rainsford&Panyangara(Shingi should've played in Harare). Many records may be in danger!

    Our batting worries me, but I hope they surprise me. Will reserve judgement till after the first game.

  • ZCFOutkast on July 23, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    A lot hinges on the magic a healthy Vitori can whip with his left hand. If he hits the right areas, enough damage will be done early to ensure Utseya&Chigumbura suffocate the Indian middle order later on. Elton is very proficient against left handers, so with Raina&Jadeja a huge part of it, I can't see India recovering from the loses of Pujara, Dhawan&Kholi once Vitori is done. If I were Taylor, I'd be more than happy to let Rohit 'Misbah' Sharma bat through!

    Should Price play? Yes, I think he should play all 3 games in Harare alongside Utseya. It's pretty clear one from Jarvis/Chatara/Chinouya will regularly partner Vitori, so runs are in the offing for the Indians if they bat long.

    Once the series heads to Bulawayo it would be wise to drop all present seamers in the squad and bring back Mpofu, Rainsford&Panyangara(Shingi should've played in Harare). Many records may be in danger!

    Our batting worries me, but I hope they surprise me. Will reserve judgement till after the first game.