Zimbabwe v India, 4th ODI, Bulawayo July 31, 2013

Testing bench strength focus for India


Match facts

Thursday, August 1, 2013
Start time 0900 (0700 GMT)

Big Picture

The young India side that won the Champions Trophy and the tri-series in the Caribbean was already without so many senior players, it was said the defending world champions already had one eye on building for the 2015 World Cup. For the short trip to Zimbabwe, the selectors picked an even more inexperienced squad, with as many as five of the 15 players having never played an ODI, including three who were still to play an international game. Further, five more players had little international experience. It is all very well saying that this trip was about testing the fringes of India's bench, but there was also the unspoken expectation - almost an assumption - that Virat Kohli would lead the side to an easy victory in his first full series as captain.

Raw side, raw captain. And three games later, Kohli has a 3-0 margin, a century and a half-century. He has also given debuts to Ambati Rayudu and Jaydev Unadkat, and stuck to them for all the three matches. Before the series moved to Bulawayo, Kohli gave himself room to experiment more with the line-up with the series already won. While it was understandable that Kohli limited himself to two debuts in Harare, despite fans' desire to see more new faces on the field, it will be self-defeating now to keep Mohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Parvez Rasool away from ODI debuts in Bulawayo.

With India's focus ideally shifting to giving the bench a run, what's in it for Brendan Taylor and his men? Plenty, as the Zimbabwe captain pointed out after the series was lost tamely in Harare. Just getting the chance to play as many as five games against the world champions and top-ranked ODI side is huge in terms of exposure for Zimbabwe. The series gone and, with the toss usually not as important in Bulawayo as it was in Harare, they might just be able to play more freely - especially someone like Taylor, who, as Zimbabwe's best batsman, has appeared to bat under a lot of self-imposed pressure so far.

Form guide

India WWWWW (most recent first, last five completed games)
Zimbabwe LLLWW

In the spotlight

Jaydev Unadkat has come a long way from the teenager who was rushed into a Test debut against the might of South Africa in Centurion in December 2010. He has worked on his strength, increased the length of his run-up and ran in with energy on the unresponsive pitches of Rajkot in the Ranji Trophy. He has been the sharpest of the three India quick bowlers who have played so far, troubling batsmen with zip in his shortish deliveries. Bulawayo will offer lesser help for the bowlers, and it will be interesting to see how the 21-year-old responds.

This series has been another typical chapter added to Hamilton Masakadza's career - three starts in three innings this series and no conversions. He has fallen to the legspinner Amit Mishra each time, all three dismissals coming to loose strokes. Returns of 11, 34 and 38 are not what you expect from a senior top-order batsman in a series Zimbabwe have prepared so hard for. Can he get at least one big score before the series is done? He can begin by avoiding getting out to Mishra.

Team news

India hardly ever give any hint about their combination at press conferences, but if one were to go by net sessions, Pujara has a bright chance of making his ODI debut. He batted for a long time on the eve of the match. Vinay Kumar did not train due to a niggle, and that could mean an opening for Mohit Sharma to make his international debut.

India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma/Cheteshwar Pujara, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Mohit Sharma, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Mohammed Shami

Malcolm Waller's horror run of scores this series reads 2, 2 and 0. Timycen Maruma looks likely to play his first ODI since March 2010. He had taken a blow to the shoulder during training in Harare, but Taylor said he's fine.

Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Sikandar Raza, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 5 Sean Williams, 6 Timycen Maruma, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Brian Vitori, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Michael Chinouya

Pitch and conditions

Usually, Bulawayo is hotter and drier than Harare, making for a flatter pitch and a quicker outfield, but the wind direction changed a few days ago, bringing in cloud, cold and some wet weather from South Africa. It's unlikely that the games will be shortened by rain, but the cloud cover could make the toss more important than usual. It was cold and overcast on Tuesday, but the sun broke through around Wednesday noon. The cold breeze persisted, though.

The Queens Sports Club pitch appeared dry and had a few cracks, and could play slow.

Stats and trivia

  • Brendan Taylor's highest score in nine ODI innings this year is 39
  • Fourteen ODI totals in excess of 300 have been scored in Bulawayo as opposed to seven in Harare


"We encourage our boys to play freely, and if we do that we generally play our best cricket. Hopefully there's a little less pressure, and we just go out there and enjoy ourselves."
Brendan Taylor

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shaikd on August 1, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    What so ever Rahane, Mohit Sharma,Pujara & Rasool should get chance today

  • anikdipto on August 1, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    As the intention is to test the strength of bench as per to make the team ready for WC-15, so all the rests should be given chances....as the series has already been won india should look forward to the 3rd generation team lead by Rohit Sharma. my team for todays match - 1.Dhawan, 2 R Sharma(cpt), 3 Pujara, 4 Rahane, 5 Rayadu, 6 Karthik, 7 Rasool, 8 Mishra, 9 M Sharma 10 Unadkat, 11 Shami We already know what Virat ,Raina,Jadeja can do at their own time. I Pathan ,Shewag,Gambir,Yuvaraj Zaheer should also be given chance in next tour

  • android_user on August 1, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    we "want parvez Rasool " he is very wonder full spin bowler

  • Bub10 on August 1, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    In my opinion, Suresh Raina should be dropped....Pujara should replace him...as far as Rohit is concerned..he has played reasonably well in the last two series...especially in the carribean....so he should retain his place...in the bowling department..vinay kumar was disappointing..he must be replaced with Mohit Sharma...And there is no harm in trying out Rasool for 2015 WC...

  • satishchandar on August 1, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    Please bring in Pujara for Rohit and have Rasool in place of RJ and Rahane in place of Raina and compulsive change of replacing Vinay with Mohit.. Open with Rahane and have Pujara at 3.. My 11 for today would be, Rahane, Dhawan, Pujara, Virat, Rayudu, DK, Rasool, Mishra, Unandkat, Shammi, Mohit..

  • Shaikd on August 1, 2013, 6:03 GMT

    Today's Playing X1 should be the following: S Dhawan, A Rahane, C Pujara, V Kohli, A Rayudu,D Karthik,R Jadeja, A Mishra, M Sharma, P Rasool, J UnadKat/Mohammad Shami

  • dummy4fb on August 1, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    parvez rasool should get chance in place of ravindra jadeja alongwith pujara.......

  • jimbond on August 1, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    Kohli should hand over captaincy to someone for the next two matches and drop himself. He should save himself for the next series now. The team should be Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Pujara, Rahane, Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Rasool, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Shami Ahmed, Unadkat.

  • drrao.nit on August 1, 2013, 5:26 GMT

    Dear selectors, once if u give a chance to mohit sharma then you will be in trouble because he will blast the zimbabweans on today. Then you can't replace him. So not to take risk. All the best.

  • dummy4fb on August 1, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    two players of India are in team but in wrong formats because of missjudgement of selectors.

    Rahane deserves place of Rohit in ODI team & Rohit deserves place of Rahane in Test team.