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India 'A' to show no mercy towards Zimbabwe

Published: Wednesday, July 21, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Harare:After a month of intensive training, Zimbabwe's second string team faces its first examination in Harare when it meets India 'A' in a four-day match.

It will be a first opportunity to show at least some improvement following recent heavy defeats at home by Sri Lanka and Australia, which resulted in Zimbabwe's withdrawal from Test cricket for six months.

The young Zimbabweans had been suddenly thrown into action at the highest international level after their seniors went on strike over the sacking of captain Heath Streak in early April.

A young and inexperienced Zimbabwe squad took over, but after the heavy defeats, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) was forced to accept a six months period in which they do not play Test cricket, causing considerable financial losses because of unplayed Tests scheduled against Australia, Pakistan and England.

They are due to resume Tests in Bangladesh during January, following intensive coaching and the two incoming 'A' tours by India and South Africa to provide experience, after which their status will be reviewed.

Phil Simmons, the former West Indies opening batsman in charge of the Zimbabwe squad in the absence of national coach Geoff Marsh, who is on leave in his native Australia pending the end of his contract in September, was impressed with his players.

"They have an impressive attitude and team spirit. Their skills in all departments are quite definitely improving," Simmons said.

"The Indians will provide a stern test of our progress, which is what we need. We appreciate their being here, but must remember they all have their own agenda -- to make their first team."

India 'A' coach Sandeep Patel warned that his players would give the Zimbabwe side no quarter.

"They are all seeking Test team places and will be looking to make impressive performances. This is where our first team players always come from. There will be no quarter for the Zimbabweans."

Three of the squad have Test experience: captain Sairaj Bahatula, Hemang Badani and Aakash Chopra.

Newcomers to touring outside India are medium pacer Munaf Patel, wicketkeeper MS Dhoni, opening batsman Dhiraj Jadhav, fast bowler Shiv Sunder Paul and all-rounder Y Golvalkar.

The other squad members are: Gautam Gambhir, S Sriram, Rohan Gavaskar, Dinesh Karthik, Amit Bhandari, Avishkar Salvi and Ramesh Powar.

Zimbabwe will be captained by Tatenda Taibu.

Squad:

Mark Vermeulen, Brendan Taylor, Stuart Matsikenyere, Vusi Sibanda, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya, Graeme Cremer, Edward Rainsford, Innocent Chinyoka, Chamiunmora Chibhabha and Tafadzwa Mufambisi.

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