Rajput confident as Zimbabwe brace for Pakistan gauntlet

Zimbabwe head coach Lalchand Rajput is confident his charges are up for the challenge when they face Pakistan in the five-match one-day international (ODI) series starting in Bulawayo this Friday.

Having watched Zimbabwe fight to the final over in their last two matches against Pakistan and Australia in last week’s Twenty20 international (T20I) triangular series in Harare, the coach believes his rebuilding team has what it takes to compete against the world’s best.

“After the T20I triangular series, the team is in good shape,” Rajput said on Wednesday, after overseeing Zimbabwe’s practice session at Queens Sports Club, venue of the ODI series against Pakistan.

“We did really well in our last two games in which our players showed their potential, that they are good enough to push the best two T20I teams in the world, Pakistan and Australia, all the way to the last over. That in itself is a big thing for us and we hope to carry that momentum into the ODI series,” he added.

Although Zimbabwe will be without the in-form batsman, Solomon Mire, and leading pace bowler Kyle Jarvis due to injury, Rajput believes his team will still be able to rise to the occasion against Pakistan.

“The players have raised their hand and shown that they are very, very positive and want to do well for Zimbabwe. I think we just have to be a little patient, we have got to be backing them and if we support them this team will do wonders,” he said.

“Pakistan are very strong but our players are a little bit confident. The confidence we take from the T20I series will be shown in the ODI series as well. I am sure this team will definitely push Pakistan and make a real fight of the ODI series.”

With rookies Liam Roche, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and Ryan Murray included in Zimbabwe’s side, Rajput emphasised the importance of not putting too much pressure on the rebuilding team to get immediate results.

“I would like to appeal to the people of Zimbabwe to be patient and please support the team,” he said.

“This team is in a phase where we are getting a lot of youngsters in. It is a rebuilding process so you have to be a little bit patient and I am sure in the days to come this team will really do wonders.”

The ODI series gets underway this Friday at Queens Sports Club, with the rest of the matches scheduled for 16, 18, 20 and 22 July at the same venue.

Zimbabwe ODI squad: Brian Chari, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Wellington Masakadza, Prince Masvaure, Peter Moor, Ryan Murray, Tarisai Musakanda, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Liam Roche, Donald Tiripano