Mpofu in line for Test re­call

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

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.”

— ESPNCricinfo

Sean Wil­liams

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