Mpofu in line for Test recall
SEAMER Chris Mpofu is in line for an international recall as Zimbabwe look to bolster their ranks ahead of the second Test against New Zealand, which starts from August 6. With more than half the squad afflicted by illness that kept Sean Williams off the field for the entire New Zealand innings, changes to the current 15-man group are expected and ESPNcricinfo has learned that Mpofu is being seriously considered.
The seamer has not played a Test in five years, since New Zealand last toured Zimbabwe in 2011. He was part of the XI that took the one-off game to the wire and finished with five wickets in the match. Mpofu
SEAN Williams’ maidenm Test century could not prevent Zimbabwe from c crashing to defeat in the first match against New ZealandZeala but it helped cushion the heavy innings loss. W Williams, who took over after Craig Ervine reached hish first fifty in the format, put on 118 for the seventh wicketw with captain Graeme Cremer and the pair spent 33.2 overs together to frustrate New Zealand. Williams went on to hold the visitors at bay until 25 minutes beforeb the tea break but once he was dismissed, Zimbab Zimbabwe could not prevent the inevitable.
New Zealand’s attacka were kept on the field for longer than they may hav have expected, after they had Zimbabwe reeling at 17 for 4 and plucked a fifth scalp on the third evening. But the middle and lower order applied themselves well ag against swing from Tim Southee and Trent Boult, a shor short-ball barrage from Neil Wagner and spin from Ish So Sodhi and Michael Santner, and took their innings deepdee to show improvement after their first-innings impl implosion.
Zimbabwe beganbega the final day with some momentum after Ervine resum resumed from an overnight score of 49. He reached his fifty offo the second ball of the day but then played inside the linel of a delivery from Boult and was given out caught behindb by debutant umpire Michael Gough. Replays showedsh Ervine had not hit the ball and the noise was likely bat-pad.
He was replace replaced by Williams, who got a rough decision in the firstfirs innings when he was caught off the helmet. Now battl battling flu, Williams, who wasn’t on the field for New Zea Zealand’s innings, put his illness aside to play an authorit authoritative knock, the most assured of his three-Test career.
He began with a quartet of crisp drives off Southee and one off Boult, whose pace stayed in the upper 120s has since been plagued by a lower back injury but has played international cricket in shorter formats, with his last ODI and T20 both coming in 2015. Mpofu also played throughout last season, including three matches in the Logan Cup where he claimed 11 wickets at 23.81, and it is understood his wicket-taking ability is what Zimbabwe are after.
“We don’t have a powerhouse of seamers which you can pick and choose from,” Makhaya Ntini, Zimbabwe’s interim head coach, said. “For this match, we thought if we have more power in the batting line-up, we’ll have time to be able to take wickets.”
However, on a slow, low Bulawayo surface, Zimbabwe’s attack of two seamers, one specialist spinner and four part-timers was only able to take six New Zealand wickets and, of those, the frontline seamers only took two. A lack of experience in the pack is also a problem - the four quicks had only two Test caps between them before this match.
Their inexperience showed when both Donald Tiripano and Michael Chinouya wasted the new ball and did not make New Zealand’s openers play enough. They also stayed away from the short ball, which had worked well for Neil Wagner in Zimbabwe’s innings. The pair improved with the second new ball, tightened their lines and asked some questions and Ntini has been working with them on applying pressure for longer periods.
“They need to search more, they need to hit one side of the wicket, they need to be able to bowl to fields and they must not be greedy,” Ntini said. “But they are learning. From a fast bowler’s point of view, what we had to mention to them is to pay attention to which ball gets hit for four and then try to correct that. You want to cut off the boundaries. If the boundary ball becomes a single, you are able to understand where you need to improve so when en you get hit, you havee to think - which ball was that. Then you will understand what at not to do.”