Virat Kohli believes India-Zimbabwe series will be competitive

India will play five One-Day Internationals in Zimbabwe, starting on July 24 © Getty Images

Harare: Jul 23, 2013

After “hectic” but successful two months of cricket, Indian players are looking to play in relaxed mood and have fun in Zimbabwe in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series, captain Virat Kohli said.

India have played non-stop cricket in the last two months winning the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in England and a triangular series in the West Indies.

The switch to a more laid-back atmosphere was evident at the team’s first training session with the players having a game of football. They laughed and joked for much of the workout.

Kohli said his young side would play hard but would also have fun at the same time.

“We are happy to be in Zimbabwe and also looking forward to having a good time out here,” Kohli said ahead of Thursday’s game at the Harare Sports Club.

“I believe that the games will be competitive. Our squad is a young one but we are out here to have fun,” he added.

Duncan Fletcher, who is in charge of India in his home country, agreed with Kohli and said the tour would be less intense as compared to the gruelling ones in the last two months.

“The past two months have been hectic, too much nerve-wracking stuff happened,” Fletcher said.

“We are looking forward to a less intense tour here. I’m sure fans will enjoy the games,” said 64-year-old Fletcher, who played six ODIs for Zimbabwe in 1983.

Zimbabwe are under a new coach Andy Waller, who took charge in May, and will throw everything in their attempt to upset the top-ranked one-day team and World Cup champions in a rare shot at one of cricket’s big teams.

“Guys are hugely excited by this,” Waller, a former Zimbabwe batsman, said.

“It’s a great experience to them, hopefully all the hard work we put in last month is just going to pay off.”

Waller, who played two Tests and 39 ODIs for Zimbabwe between 1987 and 1997, warned his players not to take India as a “weakened side” though the visitors have come to Zimbabwe without six regular players.

“I think they have so many cricket players [in India] and the guys that have come up are great and I don’t think there is a huge difference to be honest,” he said.

“We know they are all very good cricketers, we don’t even look at it as a weakened side I am sure the guys who are replacing the guys who are staying behind are just as good.”

While India have reached peak ODI form and won 10 of its last 12 matches, the 10th-ranked Zimbabwe last played a 50-over international in early May.