iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Sahan Bidappa, Hindustan Times
Bulawayo, July 31, 2013
For four India players - Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Parvez Rasool and Mohit Sharma - touring Zimbabwe for the five-match series must be more like an African Safari.

For, these four, who have not featured in any of the three matches so far in the series, have rarely padded up or bowled in the nets.

With the opposition being Zimbabwe and with just a day's gap between each of the first three matches, the team management has opted not to practice ahead of the games.

And with the series already in the bag with two matches left, the Indians seemed to take it easy on Tuesday too.

Monday was travel day for the tourists as they hopped on to a 45-minute flight from Harare to Bulawayo, venue for the last two matches of the so far one-sided series.

With the fourth match shifted to Thursday due to general elections in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, the Indians were in no mood to get into their cricketing gear.

Instead they chose to hit the road as they visited former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak's sprawling 12,000-acre farmhouse.

Located near the Bambezi river, about 65 kilometers from Bulawayo, Streak has made it a habit to host visiting teams and the India players were handed the invite too.

Established in 1996, the farm with 600 cattle serves Streak's financial needs. The farm was initially spread across 40,000 acres of land before the government seized 70% of it in 2000.

On Wednesday, India will finally hit the nets - the first time they will do so since they trained ahead of the first ODI, played last Monday.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe have been training almost daily. They were summoned to training by coach Andy Waller at 8 am on Tuesday.

In fact, they also received the invitation from the former Zimbabwe paceman, but were allowed to go only after the practice session was over. Surely, there are incentives for winning, and India will certainly agree.