HARARE: India’s stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane insists that his squad’s focus is on two Twenty20 internationals against Zimbabwe and not the turmoil rocking the Indian Premier League.
The Justice Lodhar Committee announced on Tuesday that the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals would be suspended from the IPL for two years over illegal betting leaving players from the two franchises unsure of a contract next year.
Rahane is one of five affected players who could take the field against Zimbabwe in Friday’s first T20, along with his Rajasthan teammates Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni and Sanju Samson, and Chennai seamer Mohit Sharma.
“My only focus is on these two T20s – I’m not thinking about the IPL,” Rahane said on Thursday.
“If you represent your country, your only aim is to give your best for your country and win matches for them.”
There was more bad news for Indian franchise cricket on Wednesday, when it was confirmed that the Champions League Twenty20 would be scrapped with immediate effect.
Asked whether the Indian squad had been speaking about the developments, Rahane said: “No not at all – we haven’t discussed anything.
“We were completely focused on the third ODI on Tuesday, and with the T20s
we’ll just focus on the game. We want to give our best against Zimbabwe and win both games.”
Sanju Samson has joined up with the Indian squad, who swept Zimbabwe 3-0 in the one-day series, and will provide competition to Robin Uthappa in the wicket keeping berth.
Batsman Manish Pandey can expect to make his T20 international debut, after hitting an impressive 71 on his ODI debut in Tuesday’s 83-run victory.
Zimbabwe have drafted wicketkeeper-batsman Charles Coventry, offspinner John Nyumbu and uncapped seamer Taurai Muzarabani into their squad, but will be without two key players for the series.
All-rounder Sean Williams sustained a knee injury during the second ODI, while fast bowler Tinashe Panyangara picked up a side strain in the first match.
The good news for the hosts is that batsman Craig Ervine passed a fitness test on Tuesday after overcoming a hamstring problem that kept him out of the ODIs.
Zimbabwe lost both of their Twenty20 matches against Pakistan during a recent tour, but did push their hosts close with both games going down to the final over.
“I think the main thing is to keep being competitive and get ourselves into those winning positions, because the more we get there the easier it will be to learn how to get over the line,” batsman Hamilton Masakadza said.
“Hopefully the gap (between the two teams) won’t be too big like it was in the last two ODIS, and if we keep getting into good positions we’ll work out how to pull off some victories.”
Both games will be played at Harare Sports Club, with the second match taking place on Sunday.