Lalchand Rajput puts Zimbabwe through the grind

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Lalchand Rajput, the Zimbabwe head coach, is putting his team through a gruelling preparatory camp ahead of the tours of South Africa and Bangladesh.

Zimbabwe are set to play three one-day internationals and as many Twenty20 Internationals in South Africa, starting with the first ODI in Kimberley on 30 September.

After the last T20I in South Africa on 14 October, the team will immediately set off for Bangladesh, where they will play three ODIs and two Tests, starting with the first ODI in Dhaka on 21 October.

Given the short time between the tours, Rajput his putting his team through the grind to make the most of the time available now. “I’m happy that we’ve a two-month break before that South Africa tour,” he said. “We’re having a good camp, we’re really putting pressure on the players in terms of workload. The first month, we said that, if we want to really compete at the international level, we’ve to work hard. And the boys have really responded well.

“We’ve worked out a schedule for the week – two gym sessions, two running sessions, fielding drills, bowling drills, batting drills. And then we have bowling machines. Because we’re going to South Africa, we’re practising against the short ball, the pull and square cut are two main areas to score.”

The players, according to Rajput, are having plenty of fun as well. “Overall if you look at the camp, then it’s fantastic,” he said. “I’m really happy that the players are also enjoying it. It makes it easier for the coach.”

The challenges awaiting Zimbabwe will be in the extremes. From the pace and bounce in South Africa, Zimbabwe have to adjust to the spin conditions in the sub-continent in quick time. Preparations for that have already begun.

“We don’t have much time (between the two tours), so we’re practising with the red ball as well,” he said. “We’ve two net sessions with white ball, two net sessions with red ball, and especially with the red ball, we’re trying to play more spinners.

“We’ve made turning wickets, and the area we’re focussing on is how to play spinners – mainly three important shots. One is the sweep shot, second is the stepping out and driving, and third is the defence. If you back your defence, that’s the key in the longer version of the game.”