Raina, Kirsten refuse to underestimate Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe should prove an easy meat even for a second-string Indian team but captain Suresh Raina and coach Gary Kirsten on Thursday warned the players not to underestimate the hosts in the tri-series opener in Bulawayo on Friday.
Kirsten, who joined the squad after the Twenty20 World Cup, said the Indians can take neither Sri Lanka, who also sent a depleted squad for the low-profile tournament, nor Zimbabwe lightly.
"Not only Sri Lanka but Zimbabwe also will be tough opponents," Kirsten said.
Sharing his cautious approach, Raina said there would be pressure on the Indian team, which is missing star players, and there was no question of taking anyone lightly.
"We would not take either opponents lightly. There will be plenty of pressure all round in the series," Raina said.
After having a look at the Queens Club track, the Indian captain said a score in the vicinity of 270 should be a winning total.
"We are aiming to score 270 in each match, which will be competitive," said the left-hander.
Kirsten said the absence of the senior players provided a gilt-edged opportunity for the juniors to stake their claim for 2011 World Cup.
"Naturally we are looking primarily towards the next World Cup and so are the members of this team. There is now a chance to improve their prospects for places and be sure several will take theirs," Kirsten said.
Zimbabwe's newly appointed captain Elton Chigumbura said the tournament assumed more importance for his team which was trying to make its mark as a strong cricket team.
"This is a real tough two weeks for us as we try to re-establish ourselves as a top cricket country. We have done pretty well in the last couple of months and are keen to continue," Chigumbura said.
Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher said even though India and Sri Lanka have sent second-string teams, the job for his wards would not be easy.
"Because many Indian and Sri lanka stars are missing, we know we are in for a tough series," he said.
"On one hand, we feel we might take advantage of their inexperience but on the other we know these lads are fine cricketers and have done great things in their first class programmes back home," Butcher added.
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