Gill-led new-look Team India lands in Harare for T20Is against Zimbabwe

    The Hawk
    July3/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Excitement is high with new players like Riyan Parag, Tushar Deshpande, and Abhishek Sharma eager to make their debuts.

    Indian skipper Shubman Gill

    Harare: A young Indian cricket team led by skipper Shubman Gill and with National Cricket Academy Chief V V S Laxman as coach arrived to play a five-match T20 International series against Zimbabwe beginning July 6.

    The team was seen exiting the airport with their luggage in a video posted by Zimbabwe Cricket on X. The entire squad had departed from Mumbai on Tuesday, while Gill, who was a travelling reserve with the T20 World Cup side in the Americas, arrived from New York after a break.

    "We welcome T20 World Cup champions India," wrote ZC on Tuesday night in a post on 'X'.


    Young top-order batter Riyan Parag, who will be making his India debut in the series, said in a video posted by BCCI that he had a childhood dream of travelling like this (with the national side).

    "The feel of donning India jersey, travelling with the side is different. Coming from Assam, I had this dream of playing for India. Really happy. There will be a special connection for Zimbabwe when I play my first match."

    "That will be a special moment for that ground and myself, which would be very sacred," he said.

    "After misplacing my passport, to phones, we are finally here after a 20-hour journey. Now, really looking forward to the tour," Parag added.

    Another newcomer, medium pacer Tushar Deshpande, said the feeling of being in the national setup is "slowly sinking in and it's like a dream come true for me. Playing for the country is a very special thing."

    "Travelling with the team is the most important and getting to know them, knowing the atmosphere of the team and most important for me is the fun we have during travel," added Deshpande.

    Big-hitting left-hander Abhishek Sharma said from the day he started playing cricket, he had only one dream, which was to play for the country.

    "I know if I continue working hard, I will get an opportunity, but I didn't know I will get it outside India in Zimbabwe.

    "I got a call from (skipper) Shubman after my name was announced in the squad. Everyone has been giving me so much of affection. For me it was a very big thing," added Sharma.

    "When I reached home after my name had been announced, I saw my family members giving interviews. So, I think, that was one moment I will always remember," he said.

    India will play their opening match against the Sikandar Raza-captained Zimbabwe on July 6 at the Harere Cricket Ground. The remaining four games will also be played at the same venue. The series will conclude on July 14.

    T20 World Cup travelling reserves Sanju Samson and Yashasvi Jaiswal along with all-rounder Shivam Dube were slated to join the Zimbabwe-bound group but are stranded in Barbados due to hurricane Beryl.

    Sai Sudharsan, Jitesh Sharma and Harshit Rana were on Tuesday named as replacements for trio in the Indian squad for the first two matches of the series.

    Samson, Jaiswal and Dube along with the other senior players will be arriving in India aboard a charter flight on Thursday morning. The players will later be felicitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

    Pacer Khaleel Ahmed and batter Rinku Singh, travelling reserves for the T20 World Cup, are also currently in Barbados.

    The BCCI has not named replacements for the duo even though they are in the squad for Zimbabwe series.