Murali Vijay Ajinkya Rahane India
India know the importance of a winning start against Zimbabwe in the first one-day internationalReuters

After suffering an embarrassing series defeat to Bangladesh, India will be determined to avoid another similar loss when their Zimbabwe tour begins with the 1st ODI in Harare.

India were outplayed and outthought by Bangladesh in that three-match series, and that too a full-strength India side. This one against Zimbabwe is far from the strongest XI, with most of the fringe players given an opportunity to make a case for a permanent inclusion.

Ajinkya Rahane will be the man in the spotlight after being given the captaincy reigns, as the likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina were all rested for this tour.

"Bangladesh is in the past now for us," said Rahane. "We're thinking about the present series and our plan will be to back our strengths and back our games, rather than looking at Zimbabwe's strengths."

Zimbabwe have a few strengths in their lineup – their opening bowling, in particular. If the bowlers can put some early pressure on this don't-know-what-you-are-going-to-get batting order of India, you never know what might happen.

"The opposition still has some good players, there is no doubt about that," Dav Whatmore, the Zimbabwe coach, said. "There are a number of players in this Indian side who we know are dangerous without having the experience overtime.

"The absence of the main players has presented some of the other players an opportunity to impress and we are sure they will be trying their best."

With Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan not involved in this tour, India will have a new opening lineup as well, with two of Robin Uthappa, Murali Vijay and Rahane likely to open the innings.

Rahane has impressed previously up the order, while this will be an opportunity for Uthappa to make an impression and show that he is worth a punt in this Indian side. The fact that he is expected to don the gloves as well adds another level of importance for Uthappa in this series.

Vijay, having sealed his place in the Test batting lineup, will also want to prove he belongs in the ODI lineup.

"It is pretty important for us to start well," India bowling coach Bharat Arun said. "We need to look to get momentum and a good start will ensure that. We are here to win and we will ensure we do everything we can to achieve that objective."

The India bowling headlines, initially, at least, will be grabbed by Harbhajan Singh, who now makes a comeback to the limited-overs setup after doing reasonably well in that one-off Test match against Bangladesh.

Sandeep Sharma will also be under the spotlight, with the young swing bowler looking to take his IPL form into the international format. Whether the 22-year-old will be given a debut or not in this first ODI remains to be seen.

"From the bowling point of view our attack is pretty much the same," Arun added. "Except for Sandeep Sharma all the other pacers are experienced enough. For Sandeep, he has done very well in the IPL and domestic circuit and he will carry that confidence into this series."

Where to Watch Live

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India vs Zimbabwe 1st one-day international is scheduled for a 9 am local time (12.30 pm IST, 8 am BST, 3 am ET) start with live coverage on TV in India on Ten Cricket. The one-dayer can also be watched via live streaming online on

Audience in the US can grab a few cups of coffee and watch the match live on Willow TV, with the live stream option on Willow TV Online.

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