Depleted Zimbabwe get boost ahead of Afghanistan series
At least five regular players, including Blessing Muzarabani, are expected back in contention for places in Zimbabwe’s squad for the limited-overs series at home to Afghanistan.
Seven of Zimbabwe’s established players missed, due to injury or other reasons, part of or the entire five-match Twenty20 international (T20I) series against Namibia that ended on Tuesday.
Captain Craig Ervine was forced to sit out the decisive fifth game and Ryan Burl the last two after they tested positive for COVID-19 – both have since returned negative results and are ready to play again.
Milton Shumba, who played the first two T20Is against Namibia before he was sidelined by a right quadricep strain, is also expected to be passed fit for the Afghanistan challenge.
Sean Williams is also likely to make his long-awaited return to action after Zimbabwe Cricket had granted him compassionate leave to attend to personal and private matters.
Their return, as well as that of Muzarabani who has been away at the Indian Premier League (IPL) since March, is a massive boost for Zimbabwe ahead of the three one-day international (ODI) matches and as many T20I games versus Afghanistan this June at Harare Sports Club.
The home side is however still likely to be without two of their influential players.
Richard Ngarava and Wellington Masakadza are yet to fully recover from the lower back and right shoulder injuries that ruled them out of the Namibia series.
“We have been depleted, with Muzarabani at the IPL and Williams unavailable for personal reasons, while one of our best seamers as well as one of our best spinners are recuperating from injuries,” Zimbabwe Convener of Selectors David Mutendera said.
“We, however, back the squad that we are going to pick to deliver,” he added.
“We are looking at a few considerations before announcing the squad and, with Muzarabani and Williams expected to be available while Ervine, Burl and Shumba are now fit again, the guys should be able to do the job.”
Zimbabwe will first face Afghanistan in the three ODI matches scheduled for 4, 6 and 9 June 2022 at Harare Sports Club – play is set to start at 0915 hours local time.
The ODI series is part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, a 13-team competition serving as the main route for qualification for the 2023 edition of the 50-over ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup to be staged in India.
Zimbabwe and Afghanistan will then lock horns in the three T20I matches scheduled for 11, 12 and 14 June, also at Harare Sports Club, with the games set to start at 1300 hours local time.
The T20Is will serve as part of Zimbabwe’s final preparations for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier B 2022, which is one of two global tournaments that together form the final stage of the qualification process for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 to be staged in Australia.
Zimbabwe will host the eight-team qualifying tournament in July.