A second-string Indian squad has not looked very convincing in the matches in Zimbabwe so far. However, they have still managed to win both the games played between the teams so far. The results are an indication of the gulf that exists between the two sides when it comes to talent and opportunities. India recovered from a disastrous start to post a decent total on the board in the first game, eventually going on to win it. In the second match, their batting and bowling came together as they registered a much more comprehensive victory. They will now look for a similar effort on Tuesday to close out the series 3-0.
The Zimbabwe tour was being seen as an opportunity for some talented youngsters to make their mark. Some have risen to the occasion, others haven't. Ambati Rayudu put his hand up, and delivered the goods in the opening match when India were under pressure. Although, he has played some games for India before, and has tasted reasonable success, he is yet to completely establish himself in the side, and the hundred in this series will help. Unfortunately, he has been ruled out of the remainder of the series due to injury. But, he has done more than enough to stay in contention when he returns to the side.
All-rounder Stuart Binny was also under pressure going into the series as talks of him being selected being the son of a selector continued in hushed whispers. But, Binny did not do his reputation any harm with a fighting innings in the first match to rescue India from a precarious position. Not only did Binny come up with his highest one-day score, he also picked up wickets to further give credence to his all-rounder's tag. India found a couple of more positives in the second match. Murali Vijay, who has been desperate to perform in the one-day arena, finally got among the runs, and completed his maiden half-century in one-dayers.
The Indian skipper for this tour, Ajinkya Rahane, may have established himself at the Test level, but he still has some improvements to make as far as one-dayers are concerned. This was evident in the latter stages of the World Cup as well as in the opening game of the series. In the first match, Rahane hung around, but fell in the 30s, as he has so often done in his one-day career. He made amends in the second game with a half-century, but India will still like to see a more assertive effort from their skipper. He also has to answer some questions about his one-day style raised by full-time skipper MS Dhoni.
Two players who will be exceedingly disappointed with their batting efforts in the first two games will be Robin Uthappa and Kedar Jadhav. Uthappa came here with high hopes on the back of a great domestic run and past international experience. But, he hasn't made it count so far. Jadhav, on the other hand, was among the many players given a hard-earned opportunity because the seniors were rested. Sadly, he has looked out of place in both the games that he has played so far. Both will be hoping for a third chance, but there are others in the fray as well. Among the bowlers, all eyes were on Harbhajan Singh. He has been decent without being penetrative.
--By A Cricket Analyst