NEW DELHI: India’s fresh tour to Zimbabwe may appear no challenge for many but the hosts have a history of giving tough time to the Men in Blue on crucial occasions. Zimbabwe’s entry into the world of cricket happened during the 1983 World Cup and they thrashed the mighty Australians in their maiden encounter and had put India in a tight spot in the next game by reducing them to 17/5 before Kapil Dev’s historic 175-run knock helped his side avoid an upset.
Zimbabwe repeated the same story during 1992 World Cup. In a rain curtailed clash, Zimbabwe were given a mammoth 204-run target by India in 32 overs at Hamilton. However, the minnows reached 104 in 19.1 overs with the loss of just one wicket, keeping the opponents at bay, before rain returned to change India’s fortunes.
After repeated failures in close encounters, Zimbabwe first tasted their victory against India during the tri-series in South Africa in 1997. In the eighth clash of the tournament in Centurion, Zimbabwe not just restricted India to their lowest total against red caps but also reached the revised target with three wickets in hand making road to final difficult for India. However, Sachin Tendulkar’s furious century in the next match powered India to the title clash. India succumbed to the mighty Proteas in the final.
During the 1999 World Cup in England, Zimbabwe inflicted such a pain to the Indian side that is still hard to forget. The three-run loss to Zimbabwe not just hampered India’s run rate but also made them look vulnerable in the point chart of Super Six. Despite a famous win against Pakistan, India failed to enter next round.
And of course who can forget the onslaught by No. 10 Dougie Marillier at Faridabad against in India in 2002. Chasing 275, Zimbabwe were struggling a 210/8 when Marillier joined Tatenda Taibu at crease. He unleashed such an exceptional show that not just took spectators by surprise but also snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Marillier made 56 off 24 balls and gifted his side a famous victory on Indian soil.
It’s true that Zimbabwe’s performance in recent past has worsened and they even lost their Test status for a few years (2005-11). However, the current Indian team touring Zimbabwe has bunch of inexperienced youngsters. The hosts have great chance to capitalize on the inexperienced opponents. It will also be a test of the Virat Kohli-led side to continue the good work in the absence of captain cool MS Dhoni.
Team India: The current squad: Virat Kohli (Capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Parvez Rasool, Mohammed Shami, Vinay Kumar, Jaidev Unadkat and Mohit Sharma.