The last time India toured Zimbabwe they went with a captain who had won a T20 World Cup, a 50-over World Cup and a Champions Trophy title. That was not a full Indian side. This isn’t one either. But this Indian team is led by one of their seven captains of recent times.
Against Bangladesh, they chased a total of 304 and 291 in consecutive games, Sikandar Raza scoring centuries in both games, Innocent Kaia in the first and captain Regis Chakabva in the second. But Zimbabwe’s top ranking – which fell to scores of 62 for 3, 27 for 3 and 18 for 3 in those three matches – will have to find better answers against India’s bowling. Against the Indian bowlers, the ‘fearless brand of cricket’ will be tested more than when they played against Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe LWWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Rahul batted in middle order the last time he played ODIs, but he is one of India’s frontrunners for an opening slot at the T20 World Cup. Will management open with him to give him some training at the top or will they keep beating him in the middle? Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill opened for India in the ODIs in the Caribbean and they could continue there if Rahul is placed lower. Without Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer in the squad, Rahul will of course come in and Ruturaj Gaikwad could make his ODI debut at some point in the series.
India: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 4 KL Rahul (capt), 5 Sanju Samson/Ishan Kishan (wk), 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur/Deepak Chahar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Prasidh Krishna/Avesh Khan
Zimbabwe (probably): 1 Takudzwanashe Kaitano, 2 Tadiwanashe Marumani, 3 Innocent Kaia, 4 Wessly Madhevere/Sean Williams, 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Regis Chakabva (capt, week), 7 Ryan Burl/Tony Munyonga, 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Brad Evans , 10 Victor Nyauchi, 11 Tanaka Chivanga
Location and conditions
The Harare Sports Club had hit-friendly pitches in all three games against Bangladesh, but with something for the fast bowlers in the morning due to the early start. Thursday is expected to be sunny and pleasant with a maximum temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.
Statistics and trivia
“It’s a great format. It’s a balanced format where you need to know when to attack and when to defend. It’s not a rushed format, it’s about understanding when to attack and when to defend, for both batters as bowlers. I really enjoy playing this format.”
India Vice Captain Shikhar Dhawan doesn’t hide his love for ODIs
*2:30 PM GMT, August 17: The preview was updated after news came in that Sean Williams was available to play.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo