TOURING India cricket team captain Virat Kholi expects a tough battle when they engage Zimbabwe in a five-match One-Day International series that starts in Harare tomorrow.
Kholi will skipper the tourists in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was rested for this series together with Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav.
The World Champions held their last training session at Harare Sports Club today ahead of the first ODI at the same venue.
Kholi has fond memories of their last tour to Zimbabwe in 2011 where they lost twice to the hosts in a tri-series that also included Sri Lanka.
“Zimbabwe beat us the last time we came here, so we are expecting some tough competition from them,” said Kholi. “They have some really talented players in their squad so we won’t take them lightly. It’s going to be a competitive series, we will have to play really well if we are to win and all the guys in the squad know it.”
Statistics show that the Zimbabwe squad has gained more experience in ODIs than their counterparts who have a talented but young squad.
Kholi said their lack of experience in ODIs will not matter as the players have gained relevant expertise in the Indian Premier League.
He added that his previous experience in Zimbabwe and having Zimbabwean coach Duncan coach in their camp will also help them.
“We have played here before we know the conditions we know how the wicket behaves in the morning and later in the day.”
His opposite number Brendan Taylor said that fans can expect to see a competitive Zimbabwe side which will play to entertain.
“You can expected some entertaining cricket , we have put in a lot of work into it, all that’s left is to go out to execute what we have been practicing ,” said Taylor. “We are excited about the challenge, we just want to put forward a positive brand of cricket and there is no better team to do that against than India, we have had success against them in the past and this one will just be as tough and exciting.”
The first three ODIs will be played in Harare before the series moves to Bulawayo for the final two.