A new-look India cricket team arrived in Zimbabwe Tuesday, and fans can watch live online as the two nations clash in the first of three one-day international matches Friday — a series that sees both teams under pressure to win at least two of the three games, despite India sending what is being termed a "second string" side to the African nation.
After India's shocking 2-1 defeat last month to Bangladesh in their ODI series there, India must now win at least two of the three games in Zimbabwe to hold on to their coveted Number Two world ranking in 50-overs ODI cricket.
But a 3-0 sweep would see 11th-ranked Zimbabwe finally move up in the rankings, overhauling Ireland for the 10th spot.
To find out how to watch the India vs. Zimbabwe First ODI cricket match live online, see the information at the bottom of this article. The match is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at Harare Sports Club in the Zimbabwe capital city of Harare on Friday, July 10. That's 3 a.m. United States Eastern Time, midnight Pacific.
Arrived in Harare Zimbabwe. Good to be back and see the local drum players welcoming us at the hotel.good night india pic.twitter.com/2Ke9bpz50dFor India, several of the team's top stars did not make the trip to Harare, instead resting in anticipation of later matches against higher-ranked teams this year, including a planned first face-to-face series against arch-rival Pakistan, likely to take place in the United Arab Emirates in December.
— Harbhajan Singh (@harbhajan_singh) July 7, 2015
Among the absentees are Captain MS Dhoni, top spinner Ravi Ashwin and Test Captain Virat Kolhi. After the stunning defeats to upstart Bangladesh, the India team blamed fatigue from a heavy schedule that included the Cricket World Cup in February and March followed by the six-week Indian Premier League that opened just a couple of weeks later and featured most of India's top stars.
Ajinkya Rahane will serve as ODI captain in Dhoni's place, and he insists that his team is not taking victories against Zimbabwe for granted. The African team lost all three ODI matches on their recent, historic visit to Pakistan, but played positive cricket and generally received good reviews for their improved play.
"Zimbabwe have got a pretty balanced side. They played pretty well in Pakistan, and they've good, experienced batsmen these days," Rahane said. "Good allrounders and bowlers. And they're getting better day by day. So we respect them, but at the same time we'll play our own cricket."
India-based website CricHD will stream the India vs. Zimbabwe 1st ODI at this link, but viewers there will have to put up with numerous advertisements that often cause slowdowns when viewing online. The best way to watch the India vs. Bangladesh 1st ODI live online in the United States is through Willow TV, which is available via this YouTube link with a monthly subscription fee, as well as on Willow TV's own site, accessible by clicking here.
Some promotional offers make it possible to watch Willow TV legally online free for a limited period of time, such as the offer at this link — or the one-month free trial of Sling TV's International Sports Package, which includes the all-cricket channel. Information on that deal can be found at this link.
[Image: Phil Walter/Getty Images]