Zimbabwe coach Lalchand Rajput exuded optimism before the first ODI in Kimberley on Sunday. It is a feature that has characterized his short tenure in office, took the full-time position in August after occupying the interim position against Australia and Pakistan in July.
"South Africa must be aware that this is not the case, the Zimbabwean team of the past," Rajput said. "This is a team that is going to give you a good run for your money, we have come to show the world that we are a competitive team and that every game is important, we are here to show that we can play aggressive cricket and we are here to win "
That's talking about fighting, and Rajput has inspired teams before. Part of the team of experts of the Indian team for a couple of years, even when they won the inaugural World T20 in 2007, Rajput was also in charge of the Mumbai Indians in the IPL of 2008 and oversaw many of Afghanistan's recent achievements during its mandate as a coach. . At the time, Afghanistan won six of the 10 limited series, secured Full Membership and even toppled the West Indies in an ODI in Gros Islet, its first victory in the format over a Full Member other than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.
Undoubtedly, Rajput is looking to replicate that success with Zimbabwe, and hopes that the challenge of facing South Africa for the first time in three years will stimulate their team. "South Africa is always a great challenge, but a challenge always brings out the best in me and the players," he said.
Unfortunately, the Rajput optimism has not yet resulted in success in the field. While Zimbabwe remained almost afloat in its tri-series T20I against Australia and Pakistan, they failed in the ODIs to lose 5-0 as Pakistan set numerous records.
"The series we played when I took over was not good for us, but it would never be easy to face Australia and Pakistan in the triangular series T20I and then Pakistan in the ODI series when there were seven to eight players missing," he explained. Rajput.
"But now that the players have returned, it looks like a balanced team, a team that wants to do well, in addition to Graeme Cremer and Sikandar Raza, most of our veteran players are back and, when the experience and youth they combine, we can get the best out of the team.  "We had a very good preparatory camp for two months and when you prepare well the results will normally be on your side"