Zim­babwe brace for Sri Lanka

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ed­die Chikamhi

ZIM­BABWE cricket team cap­tain Graeme Cre­mer has backed the Chevrons to suc­ceed in the two-match Test se­ries against Sri Lanka be­gin­ning at Harare Sports Club this week­end.

The Chevrons, who last won a Test se­ries back in 2011, are pos­i­tive about their prospects. Cre­mer yes­ter­day told our Harare Bureau that they aim to put the tourists un­der pres­sure by claim­ing the first Test which starts on Satur­day.

How­ever, the 30-year old leg spin­ner reck­oned the se­ries will not be a stroll in the park. Zim­babwe last won a Test se­ries five years ago when they beat Bangladesh in a one-off match upon their re­turn from self-im­posed ex­ile from the five-day game.

“I think we are good to go. We aim to come hard on them in the first Test, which means we have to be well pre­pared for that. It needs us to work very hard.

“The good thing is that we are play­ing on fa­mil­iar ground and they haven’t played at Harare Sports Club in a long time. It must be a plus for us,” said Cre­mer.

Cre­mer also be­lieves the re­turn of seamer Chris Mpofu to the na­tional team fold has helped sta­bilise the side fol­low­ing the in­juries to two key bowlers Ti­nashe Panyan­gara and Tendai Chatara.

Mpofu has fought his way back into the Chevrons team for the longer ver­sion of the game after five years on the side­lines.

The Tuskers fast bowler, who last played Test cricket against New Zealand in 2011, was named in the 16 mem­ber squad that also in­cluded the un­capped duo Carl Mumba and Tari­sai Musakanda and a bat­ting lineup rich in ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mpofu backed up his case with some en­cour­ag­ing per­for­mances dur­ing the re­cent un­of­fi­cial Test match against Pak­istan A.

“We are happy to have him back in good form. Of course he had strug­gled a bit in the past but he is bowl­ing very well, even bet­ter than be­fore. Chris has good pace and bounce and we hope he will be at his best dur­ing the tour,” said Cre­mer.

Mal­colm Waller also caught the eye of the se­lec­tors and has re­turned to the team after scor­ing four straight half-cen­turies against Pak­istan A in three 50-over and one first-class match.

Waller scored 37 and 87 when given the op­por­tu­nity with the bat in the first class match against the Pak­ista­nis and had equally im­pres­sive scores of 86, 74 and 72 runs in the lim­ited overs matches.

The up­com­ing tal­ents, Mumba and Musakanda, will also be look­ing to im­press new coach Heath Streak after dis­play­ing some glimpses dur­ing the same tour.

The 21-year old Mumba has played 16 first­class matches with Mid­west Rhi­nos tak­ing 59 wick­ets at an im­pres­sive av­er­age of 17.37 in the do­mes­tic league.

His Rhi­nos team­mate Musakanda, also at 21 years old, might have played fewer games but has amassed 607 runs at 27.59 and five fifties in 12 first-class matches.

“He (Mumba) is prob­a­bly the quick­est bowler that we have at the mo­ment and we have to use that to our ad­van­tage if he is selected to play.

“Un­for­tu­nately two of our se­nior play­ers are in­jured but the good news is that we have the young­sters com­ing in. I think we have enough fire­power on the bowl­ing side.

“There are some new guys here and there but our bat­ting line up is very ex­pe­ri­enced. Most of th­ese guys have been around for a while,” said Cre­mer.

The bat­ting line up will be head­lined by old hands Hamil­ton Masakadza who missed the last Test against New Zealand due to in­jury, T ino Ma­woyo, Craig Ervine, Sean Wil­liams, Regis Chak­abva, Sikan­dar Raza and Waller. There are also ex­cit­ing prospects in Peter Moor and Brian Chari. There were no places for Chamu Chib­habha, Prince Mas­vaure, Rich­mond Mu­tum­bami, Njab­ulo Ncube and John Nyumbu. Sri Lanka ar­rived in the coun­try on Tues­day for the tour which will end with a tri-na­tion lim­ited overs se­ries in­volv­ing West Indies next month. The tourists will be cap­tained by 38-year old left-arm spin­ner Ran­gana Herath, in the ab­sence of in­jured skip­per An­gelo Matthews.

Peter Muduhwa

Chris Mpofu

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