HARARE – India cricket captain MS Dhoni says winning the toss will be crucial when playing at Harare Sports Club (HSC) wickets which are usually on the flat side.
Dhoni and the rest of the India side arrived in the capital yesterday evening for a series comprising three ODIs and three T20 Internationals. All matches will be at HSC starting with the first ODI this Saturday.
The HSC grounds men usually prepare slow tracks with most captains who win the toss opting to bowl first in order to maximise on the early movement.
“Zimbabwe is challenging because it’s one venue where toss is vital. There are not many places in the world where you play day games, so you have to accordingly adapt,” Dhoni said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo.
“The fact is that we won’t be playing a lot of ODI cricket. After this we play against New Zealand and maybe another five to seven ODIs more.
“We play a lot of Test cricket this season so I feel every game that we get will be very crucial. We will try to see what is the best thing for the squad overall.”
The Indian skipper is joined by a host of new faces for this away series after the selectors rested several regular players for their incoming tour of the Caribbean, adding that it will be a different experience to lead a youthful side in Zimbabwe.
“You keep playing with almost the same group of players, so you almost know the roles and responsibilities and what each player’s strengths are,” he said.
“There will be quite a few players in this bilateral series with whom I’ll be playing for the first time. So I have to quickly assess their strengths and, at the same time, according to the team composition what is the best possible manner in which each individual can be utilised.”
India have rested a number of their leading players for this series and like in their recent visits here, they have given a chance to some emerging talent to stake their claim in the full strength squad.
Dhoni, however, expressed satisfaction with the amount of talent in this touring squad despite the majority of them not having many matches under their belts.
“When it comes to the talent part, the squad looks good. All of them have been rewarded for their (performances in) domestic cricket. It will be exciting to see them on the field. Most of them are very good fielders, so that will be good,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe returned from their team building exercise in Bulawayo and yesterday had a morning practice session at the match venue.
New interim skipper Graeme Cremer will lead the locals for the first time since the taking over the captaincy from Hamilton Masakadza last month.
South African legendary pace bowler Makhaya Ntini has been elevated to the post of head coach also on an interim basis following the axing of former coach Dav Whatmore.
Former South African all-rounder Lance Klusener also begins his tenure as Zimbabwe’s batting coach on a two-year contract.
Ex-Zimbabwe Test captain Tatenda Taibu now heads the selection panel as the convener taking over from Mid West Rhinos administrator Kenyon Ziehl, who was also sacked following the changes.