ISLAMABAD: Zimbabwe’s cricket squad arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday — minus their Indian coach Lalchand Rajput, who had been advised to stay away from the rival South Asian nation.
The 20-man Zimbabwe team will be competing in a series of three One-day internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals against Babar Azam-led Pakistan side. The entire One-day International rubber will be played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi with the first match scheduled on Oct 30.
The visiting squad members, in the meantime, will complete a mandatory virus quarantine period. Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) said in a statement they had been contacted by the Embassy of India in Harare, requesting that Rajput be exempted from the tour “in accordance with the travel guidelines stipulated by the Government of India for its citizens”.
ZC also confirmed that Rajput had received a visa from the Embassy of Pakistan, refuting various reports that suggested he had been denied.
“Zimbabwe head coach [Lalchand] Rajput will miss the Pakistan tour after Indian embassy in Harare wrote to us asking that Rajput, who is an Indian national, be exempted from visiting Pakistan,” a Zimbabwe Cricket statement read.
In Rajput’s absence, bowling coach Douglas Hondo — a former Test fast bowler — will supervise Zimbabwe for the tour, with opening batsman Chamu Chibhabha at the helm.
India and Pakistan have been bitter rivals since independence from Britain in 1947, with relations taking a fresh turn for the worse last year following New Delhi’s decision to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its partial autonomy.
The remaining two ODIs will be played on Nov 1 and 3, while the three Twenty20 Internationals are set for Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Nov 7, 8 and 10, respectively
Rajput played two Tests and four One-day internationals in a short career before turning to coaching. He was appointed Zimbabwe coach in August 2018. The limited-over series will further the revival of international cricket in Pakistan, suspended after the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked in Lahore in 2009.
Zimbabwe were also the first team to end Pakistan’s five-year isolation by touring in May 2015. South Africa are also slated to tour Pakistan in January, while England seem likely to come for the first time since 2005 for a three-match Twenty20 series, also in January.