HARARE – The second match of this five match series between Zimbabwe and India takes place at Harare Sports Club today and it is unlikely to be any more evenly matched than the first ODI, in which India won by six wickets with more than five overs to spare.
Zimbabwe did give a pretty good account of themselves with the bat in the first match, but they will always struggle to be really competitive with such a weak bowling attack.
India is unlikely to change their winning side. The team may have a relatively young and inexperienced side, but it contains sufficient firepower and talent to make light work of the Zimbabwean attack.
There’s a definite mismatch if you can rest MS Dhoni, Ravi Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and still win comfortably by six wickets.
Virat Kohli registered his 15th ODI century and continues to show his dominance as a one-day batsman. He can dominate against any attack, even the world’s best, so it is unsurprising that Zimbabwe struggled to know where to bowl to him.
They were particularly easy innings for Kohli, rarely challenged at all by the bowlers.
Sadly, this series is likely to be pretty one-sided — Zimbabwe’s new coach Andy Waller knows that it is a huge challenge for them.
“All along we have prepared with the hope that we might surprise them in one of the games — we have to be realistic, and look to be competitive and do the best that we can,” he said.
India will almost certainly keep the same side — there would be no reason at all to change other than to give some of the other squad members “a go,” which they probably won’t do until later in the series.
It is not all doom and gloom for Zimbabwe — there may well be a surprise in one of the five matches in this series. If they can put on a big score batting first, which they are capable of, the scoreboard pressure may lead to mistakes being made by India in the chase.
Zimbabwe, too, are probably likely to keep the same side if all players are assessed as fit.
This is their most settled batting side in a long time, and it is the core of the side who beat Bangladesh in that recent series.
They may want to think about whether Brendan Taylor should be coming in earlier in the innings. In limited overs cricket, you want your best batsmen facing the most number of balls, and he didn’t come to the crease until the 34th over.
Elton Chigumbura is a dasher and can blast some quick runs towards the end of the innings.
It’s likely Amit Mishra, who picked up three wickets in the first ODI, will play a key role again.
His googly is difficult to pick up at the best of times, and Ravinda Jadeja bowls a very tight line and length in one-day cricket, making him very hard to get away.