Houghton backs confident Zimbabwe to challenge India

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Dave Houghton

Zimbabwe cricket team head coach Dave Houghton has issued a warning to India, saying that the hosts can put up a serious contest against the KL Rahul-led side in the three-match ODI series starting on Thursday, August 18.

The Indian team is set to arrive in Harare on Saturday evening for their first tour of the Southern African nation in six years for a three-match ODI series. The matches will take place at Harare Sports Club on August 18, 20 and 22. Top-order batter KL Rahul will lead the Indian side while hosts will be captained by Regis Chakabva in the absence of Craig Ervine, who is nursing an injury.

The ODI series is part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, a 13-team competition serving as the main route for direct qualification for the 50-over World Cup to be staged in India next year.

Zimbabwe are currently placed 12th in the 13-team pool, with just three wins in 15 matches. The last India team that travelled to Zimbabwe was led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“Having watched so much of Indian cricket and the IPL over the last few years, we know that India could probably put out three or four sides and perhaps be first, second, third, fourth in world cricket. Whatever side they send to us, we know it is going to be a strong and experienced side in terms of the amount of international cricket they play and it will be tough work for us, ” Dave Houghton was quoted as saying by the Indian sports magazine Sportstar.

“But before we dispersed for a few days after last night’s game, I told the boys in the dressing room that India coming here is a good opportunity for us to really score and get good results against one of the best sides in the world. I told them that, I want us to believe that we aren’t here just to add up to the numbers and watch India play really good cricket, but we are here to challenge. I am hoping in these three games, we can challenge India really hard,” Houghton added.

Houghton said he has been impressed by how his team’s bowling department has developed but admitted that while the batsmen did well during the Bangladesh series the top-order remains an area of concern.

“We are not happy with the starts we are getting and that’s one of the areas I would like to work on, especially with our top-order batters. Also, we have been hamstrung by a few injuries and are missing some seniors like Sean Williams and Craig Ervine. It’s not that the youngsters don’t have the skills to replace them, but it’s just that they don’t have that experience. So, I am trying to see if we can get a better top-order start. Our bowling and fielding against Bangladesh have been exceptional, and I am happy with those two departments,’ he said.

Speaking on the form of star man Sikandar Raza he added: “Obviously having somebody like Raza in the form that he has been is amazing. You also put together with that because having one player in that sort of form brings courage to the rest of the team.

“You suddenly get Innocent Kaia scoring a great hundred and then Regis Chakabva gets his first ODI hundred in the next match and that’s a good innings I have seen from anybody in this country,” Houghton concluded.

The Indian side is captained by KL Rahul in the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma while legend VVS Laxman will take over the head coaching duties after Rahul Dravid was given some time off ahead of the upcoming Asia Cup.

Zimbabwe ODI Squad:

Regis Chakabva (c), Tanaka Chivanga, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Ryan Burl, Innocent Kaia, Kaitano Takudzwanashe, Clive Madande, Wesley Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, John Masara, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Donald Tiripano

 

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