Sanjay Bangar, India's interim coach for the tour to Zimbabwe, has said he expects the unfamiliar conditions to prove a big challenge for his inexperienced team. Bangar highlighted the importance of the tour for these young players, given it comes at the start of the international season for them as they look to make an impression in international cricket.
"Not many of them would have played in Zimbabwe and getting used to the conditions in such a short period would be a major challenge," Bangar told bcci.tv. "We don't really have a lot of time there and we play our [first] match straightaway. Passing on the information and experiences that we have had from the previous tour would be vital."
Only five members of this squad were selected for the last tour of Zimbabwe, in 2015, when India whitewashed the hosts in a three-match ODI series. This time India's tour will consist of three ODIs and three T20Is, all of which are to be played at the Harare Sports Club. Elaborating on the challenges the team will confront, Bangar highlighted the use of the Kookaburra ball and the high altitude of the ground.
"This year we are going to be playing with Kookaburra balls. We played with Duke balls last year. The Duke ball tends to do a bit more than the Kookaburra ball. We will have to go there and find out what is the behaviour of a Kookaburra ball vis-à-vis a Duke ball.
"Zimbabwe is also at a higher altitude. So fielding-wise, the ball tends to travel slightly quicker. Those are the small adjustments you need to make to make sure that you are on top of the game."
India have rested their established players for the tour, instead picking a squad packed with youngsters. While the squad will be led by longtime captain MS Dhoni, who has played 275 ODIs and 68 T20Is, the remaining 15 squad members have a collective tally of 83 ODIs and 28 T20Is. Five members of the squad - Yuzvendra Chahal, Faiz Fazal, Mandeep Singh, Karun Nair and Jayant Yadav - have not played any international cricket.
Given the fresh faces all around, Bangar said he would be expecting high energy levels on the field. "This team fields well, there is a lot of energy, buzz and intensity in whatever they do," he said. "And that would be the underlying message in approaching all three departments of the game."