The last time India came on a tour of Zimbabwe, it was in 2016 and KL Rahul, who had been in the Test fold, was starting to get into white-ball scheme of things after a breakthrough IPL season with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In the first ODI of that tour, making his debut in 50-over format under MS Dhoni, Rahul became the first India batter and eleventh overall to make a century on debut. He ended the ODI leg of the tour as the leading run-getter and took Player of the Series award as well.
Six years later, Rahul will be returning to Harare as the captain of the side, to the place where his white-ball mainstay story for India began. But he is coming back after a long time on the sidelines. A groin injury was followed by sports hernia surgery and testing positive for Covid-19.
Thursday’s match, the first of the three ODI matches between India and Zimbabwe, will have the majority of focus on how Rahul as well as Deepak Chahar shape up, especially with Men’s T20 World Cup coming in October-November and before that, the Asia Cup, starting from August 27.
Just like Rahul, who last played a competitive cricket match in May, Chahar was last seen in action in February in the T20Is against the West Indies. A quadriceps tear he picked during the series got him on sidelines and with the back injury picked up, he had to spend more time away from playing action.
The ODIs against Zimbabwe give time and chance for both Rahul and Chahar to get back into playing groove in international cricket, especially with back-to-back action coming up. Rahul has got success as a number five batter in ODIs and should be interesting to see if he comes to bat in same position or gets fit on top of the order, which he does in Tests and T20Is.
India vs Zimbabwe, 1st ODI
Venue: Harare Sports Club, Harare
Date & Time: August 18 at 1245 PM IST
Live Streaming and TV details: Sony Sports Network and SonyLIV website and app
IND vs ZIM 1st ODI Dream11 Prediction
Wicketkeeper: Regis Chakabva, Sanju Samson
Batters: KL Rahul, Shubman Gill, Innocent Kaia
All-rounders: Sikandar Raza, Deepak Hooda, Wesley Madhevere
Bowlers: Deepak Chahar, Luke Jongwe, Shardul Thakur
Captain: KL Rahul
Vice-captain: Shubman Gill
IND vs ZIM 1st ODI Predicted 11
India: KL Rahul (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson (wk), Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, Shahbaz Ahmed, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Avesh Khan.
Zimbabwe: Tadiwamashe Marumani, Takudzwanashe Kaitano, Innocent Kaia, Wessly Madhevere, Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva (c & wk), Tony Munyonga, Luke Jongwe, Brad Evans, Victor Nyauchi, Richard Ngarava.