ZIMBABWE ODI captain Elton Chigumbura (pictured below) ho-pes to continue on a rich vein of form which he struck in Pakistan when he leads his side against India in the first of three ODIs at Harare Sports Club this morning.
The all-rounder, who scored his maiden ton in Lahore last May flourishing at his new number four batting position, is anxious to inspire victory against the might of India.
After the departure of Brendan Taylor who occupied the number four slot, Chigumbura has taken responsibility even though he suffered the misfortune of a two- match ban on the Pakistan tour for a slow over rate.
He will slot back into his position as coach Dave Whatmore seeks a win in his first home match since he took over from Steve Mangongo last December.
Chigumbura told reporters at a press conference that he is relishing the different, if tougher, challenge posed by the Indians.
“Everyone is eager to get on with it,” said Chigumbura about his team. “We have prepared well and we feel we are ready; all that’s left is for us to go out tomorrow (today) and execute our game plan.”
Despite India sending out a young bowling attack Chigumbura is under no illusion it will be any easier for the Zimbabwean batsmen who played well in Pakistan.
“They, India, are a very strong side and it’s going to be an exciting challenge for us. It is not easy to get selected for India so all the players that came here actually earned it. We respect them just as much as we respect the guys that were rested.”
Chigumbura has continued to push himself hard at training as well as at his individual work outs.
“I have been working hard and I hope I can continue with the good form from Pakistan. I feel if I do well I give my team a better chance of winning, so it’s a huge responsibility but I am looking forward to the task.”
Whatmore, on the other hand, is looking for better penetration with the ball after an overhaul of the bowling line up that toured Pakistan.
Of the seamers that travelled to Pakistan, Tawanda Mupariwa has been left out of the squad in this series while Chris Mpofu only managed a place as a standby outside the 15-member squad.
While Brian Vitori has made the squad he is unlikely to make the final 11 today.
“We are aware of the gap in ranking between the two nations but we have players that have played more international cricket than the Indians,” said Whatmore. “That, however, does not necessarily translate into results. We know there are areas that we need to work on, our bowlers need to pick more wickets regularly and our fielding needs to improve, so if our batting continues to be as good as it was in Pakistan we will give ourselves a good chance of winning.”
The Indians will be looking to their captain Ajinkya Rahane, opening batsman Murali Vijay, Mohit Sharma who made his debut in Zimbabwe in 2013, while Harbajan Singh’s bag of tricks could trouble the hosts.
Zimbabwe probable 11; V Sibanda, C Chibhabha, H Masakadza, E Chigumbura, S Williams, R Mutumbami, R Chakabva, P Utseya, G Cremer, T Panyangara and D Tiripano.'