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Sanju Samson (right), who is celebrating the World Cup triumph with skipper Rohit Sharma during the parade in Mumbai, will miss the first two games against Zimbabwe. Image Credit: Source: BCCI-X

Harare: Zimbabwe and India will be looking to the future when they start a five-match Twenty20 international series at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

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Outgoing Indian coach Rahul Dravid described India’s win in the T20 World Cup in Barbados last Saturday as the end of “a journey of two years”.

With the next T20 World Cup scheduled for India and Sri Lanka in 2026, the series in Zimbabwe marks the start of a new two-year journey for both sides.

Trio's arrival delayed

But whereas India will be seeking to build on last weekend’s triumph, Zimbabwe need to start again after failing to qualify for the recent global event. They were squeezed out by Namibia and Uganda in the Africa region qualifier in Namibia last November.

Zimbabwe: Sikander Raza (captain), Faraz Akram, Brian Bennett, Johnathon Campbell, Tendai Chatara, Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Brandon Mavuta, Blessing Muzarabani, Dion Myers, Antum Naqvi, Richard Ngarava and Milton Shumba.
India (for first two matches only): Shubman Gill (captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Abhishek Sharma, Rinku Singh, Dhruv Jurel (wicketkeeper), Riyan Parag, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan, Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Tushar Deshpande, Sai Sudharsan, Jitesh Sharma (wicketkeeper) and Harshit Rana.
All the matches will be played in Harare on July 6, 7, 10, 13 and 14.

None of India’s World Cup winners will be in action in the first two matches on Saturday and Sunday but squad members Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shivam Dube and Sanju Samson will be available for the last three games.

The trio returned to India with the rest of the World Cup squad after their departure from Barbados was delayed by a hurricane.

Sai Sudharsan, Jitesh Sharma and Harshit Rana were named as replacements for the first two matches.

Shubman Gill will captain a second-string Indian team. He is one of several players who can stake an early claim to fill the gap left by star batsmen Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who announced their retirement from T20 internationals after victory in Barbados.

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Young Indian opener Yashasvi Jaiswal (left) didn't get the chance to prove his mettle in the World Cup, but the left-hander will get his chance against Zimbabwe to cement his place at the top of the order. Image Credit: Source: BCCI-X

Jadeja's replacement

Another player who needs to be replaced is left-arm spin bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who also announced his retirement from the shortest international format.

Riyan Parag and Rana, both 22, and Abhishek Sharma, 23, are in line to win their first international caps.

With India yet to announce a long-term successor to Dravid, interim coach VVS Laxman will be in charge in Harare.

Zimbabwe's youthful squad

Zimbabwe have a new coach in Justin Sammons, who was previously South Africa’s batting coach.

Zimbabwe named a largely youthful squad. Captain Sikander Raza, 38, is the only player aged over 30.

All-rounder Wessly Madhevere and leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta return to international action after serving a ban for recreational drug use.

Notably absent are long-time stalwarts Craig Ervine and Sean Williams, two of five players jettisoned after Zimbabwe’s most recent T20 series, a 4-1 defeat away against Bangladesh in May.