Monday, June 13, 2016
Start time 0900 local (0700 GMT)
Cricket at the Harare Sports Club is often a throwback. The ball swings, almost through the day. The outfield is large enough that mis-hits do not turn a profit for the batsman. And if you want to buy runs, you have to spend time. That Zimbabwe could only put up 168 - a total considerably short of their own expectations, let alone the par score at the ground - was because only four of their XI could last more than half an hour at the crease on Saturday.
Another deficiency that needs addressing is their strategy. After 299 balls, Zimbabwe could round up only 82 singles. They did, however, go on a spree looking for dots and found 197 of them. Early morning starts in the winter ensure considerable sideways movement. Why tackle that on your own when you can tag in your partner at the other end? India did that to perfection through KL Rahul (108 balls) and Ambati Rayudu (120 balls), who shared strike almost evenly to record the best second-wicket partnership ever (162 runs) at this ground.
Although 50-over cricket does provide batsmen with the luxury of time, it is preferable to avoid stagnation. That way the opposition has to worry about things beyond simply putting the ball on a good length and hitting repeat. Zimbabwe's think-tank is aware of this, judging from batting coach Lance Klusener's comments at the post-match press conference: "Had we applied ourselves and maybe got a few partnerships would've maybe at least forced them [India] to try and play a little bit differently." When in his prime, Klusener was the kind of batsman who always looked for runs. Zimbabwe would do well to inculcate that mindset.
Zimbabwe: LLWWL (last five matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
It can't have been fun for Karun Nair, spending 38 overs in the dressing room with only 7 to his name while his team-mates tucked in. A batsman known for his uncomplicated technique and an appetite for big runs, he would want another chance as opener to erase a forgettable debut.
Chamu Chibhabha is Zimbabwe's leading-run getter since the start of 2015. He was able to survive most of the first hour on Saturday until he was undone by a lovely inswinger from Jasprit Bumrah and walked back with 13 off 42 balls. Zimbabwe would want their opener to set a better pace than that.
This tour was aimed at determining how strong India's reserves are, but with only three of the XI getting to bat, the team management may keep Mandeep Singh and Faiz Fazal on the bench a little longer. Left-arm quick Jaydev Unadkat, offspinner Jayant Yadav and allrounder Rishi Dhawan may get a look in considering India should have enough information about Bumrah and Axar Patel.
India (probable): 1 Karun Nair, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (wk) 7 Axar Patel/ Jayant Yadav/ Rishi Dhawan, 8 Dhawal Kulkarni, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Jasprit Bumrah/ Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Barinder Sran
Zimbabwe stacked their team with batsmen up to No. 8 but were not able to make a strong enough total. Perhaps the presence of an experienced batsman like Sean Williams would help change that.
Zimbabwe 1 Chamu Chibhabha, 2 Peter Moor, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Sean Williams/ Vusi Sibanda, 5 Craig Ervine, 6 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 7 Sikandar Raza, 8 Elton Chigumbura, 9 Graeme Cremer (capt), 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Taurai Muzarabani
Pitch and conditions
There was appreciable swing in the first hour, and some seam movement even when the ball got old at the Harare Sports Club. Totals in the vicinity of 230-250 should prove competitive. Monday is set to be rather cloudy.
Stats and trivia
197 - Dots accumulated by Zimbabwe in the first ODI - joint fifth-most in an ODI against India in the last 10 years
Bumrah, with 25 wickets, is India's most successful bowler in 2016. The next best is R Ashwin with 23 wickets.
"There's no doubting the talent there. We might just have to feel our way into the next week or so but I am sure we will settle in as soon as we can."
Zimbabwe's batting coach Lance Klusener asks for patience from the fans