Zimbabwe brace for Sri Lanka
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.