1st T20I: Abhishek, Jurel, Parag handed debuts as India elect to field first against Zimbabwe

Harare, July 6 (IANS) Abhishek Sharma, Dhruv Jurel and Riyan Parag have been handed India T20I debuts as captain Shubman Gill won the toss and elected to field first against Zimbabwe in the series opener at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
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1st T20I: Abhishek, Jurel, Parag handed debuts as India elect to field first against Zimbabwe

Harare, July 6 (IANS) Abhishek Sharma, Dhruv Jurel and Riyan Parag have been handed India T20I debuts as captain Shubman Gill won the toss and elected to field first against Zimbabwe in the series opener at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

The series holds huge importance from an Indian perspective, as it kickstarts their road to building a team for the 2026 T20 World Cup to be hosted jointly by them and Sri Lanka. With the retirement of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Ravindra Jadeja after the 2024 T20 World Cup triumph, there are spots up for grabs in the national set-up which the youthful Gill-led squad would be keen to stake a claim for.

“I think it looks like a good surface. It won't change much later. It has been a long coming. We won an ICC event after 11 years. Very satisfied, hope for many more to come. Don't feel pressure, you have expectations but from yourself, not from outside,” said Gill, in his first assignment as an India captain, after winning the toss.

Playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2024, Abhishek hit 42 sixes, the most by any batter in the competition, as he amassed 484 runs in 16 innings, including hitting three half-centuries. Hailing from Amritsar in Punjab, Abhishek is mentored by Yuvraj Singh and Brian Lara. He was also the Player of the Tournament in Punjab’s triumph in the 2023/24 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, for amassing 485 runs in ten innings in the competition.

Parag, Abhishek’s team-mate in the 2018 U19 World Cup triumph, had his coming-of-the-age season in IPL 2024 for Rajasthan Royals, amassing 573 runs in 14 innings as a middle-order batter and striking 33 sixes while hitting four fifties. He was handed his T20I debut cap by his father Parag Das, a former first-class cricketer for Assam.

Wicketkeeper-batter Jurel, on the other hand, impressed in his debut Test series against England at home, picking up a Player of the Match award at Ranchi. In IPL 2024, Jurel amassed 195 runs in 11 innings while playing for Rajasthan Royals.

Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said, “I don't mind batting first. The wicket looks good. Zimbabwe Cricket has trusted me with this transition phase. I look for young boys to come out and fight. It is humbling to lead this bunch. Sean (Williams) has retired. It is a young side. (Craig) Ervine will have a role in the future.”

Playing XIs:

India: Shubman Gill (c), Abhishek Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Riyan Parag, Rinku Singh, Dhruv Jurel (wk), Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed

Zimbabwe: Tadiwanashe Marumani, Innocent Kaia, Brian Bennett, Sikandar Raza (c), Dion Myers, Johnathan Campbell, Clive Madande (wk), Wessly Madhevere, Luke Jongwe, Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara

--IANS

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