Loss fails to dampen coach’s hopes Saen Williams

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE cricket team coach Lalchand Rajput has remained positive ahead of their Test series against Bangladesh starting this Saturday in Sylhet despite losing two days of practice because of rains.

The Chevrons, who engage in their first Test in 11 months, only managed to play the last of the three-day practice match against the Bangladesh Cricket Board XI.

The match ended yesterday with a paltry 66 overs played between the sides.

The touring side declared at 145-5 and the bowlers bowled only 18 overs with Kyle Jarvis and leg spinner Ryan Burl getting a wicket each before the match was called off with the BCB XI on 56-2.

Speaking from Bangladesh yesterday, Rajput said they are looking to put behind them the poor run that has largely characterised the 2018 calendar. Zimbabwe are keen to salvage what remains of their pride after suffering an ODI whitewash at the hands of Bangladesh last week.

This tour was preceded by a battering in South Africa where they finished winless in both ODI and T20I contests. And today they head to Sylhet where they have one day of practice to switch to the longer version of the game ahead of the weekend assignment.

“We are all positive despite the losses in South Africa and Bangladesh. But, if you look at Bangladesh, we had a chance of winning the first ODI.

“As a batting unit we have really improved with each game. We are almost getting 280-plus so it’s a good sign. The batsmen are getting into form. Sean Williams got a 100 and BT (Brendan Taylor) had two 75s.

“Batsmen are getting into rhythm and it’s a good sign before the Test match. So we can definitely compete and the players are looking forward because they have done reasonably well when they played in Bangladesh the last time.

“The mood in the dressing room is very positive. We are looking forward to it and hopefully we will have a better Test match,” said Rajput.

Zimbabwe last played a Test match in December 2017 when they toured neighbours South Africa for the inaugural four-day Test.

The Chevrons would have wanted more game time to acclimatize. But they were kept indoors the first two days of their practice game against the BCB XI and only had a real chance to play yesterday when the rains had subsided.

“It’s not an ideal situation because we would have loved to play all the three days. But we have got to switch on very quickly.

“At the international level we hardly get time to really switch on and switch off quickly. So I think the players understand it and hopefully we will have one more day of practice before the Test match so we will do our processes right before the Test match.

“I know Zimbabwe never play many Test matches. The last Test match was a year ago but before we came to Bangladesh we had a game in Harare and we really prepared well for red ball cricket.

“We had prepared practice pitches for turners and we practiced on turning wickets. Overall we had good game of red ball as well. So we have prepared well; the processes and the other plans.

“Now the time has come that those processes and plans have to be exhibited well here. So hopefully the players know what their goal is, what they have to do in the Test match and hopefully we exhibit it better,” said Rajput.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s 2018-19 domestic cricket season is set to start on December 1 and it will involve four franchises that will compete in all three formats of the game.

In light of its restructuring exercise based on its new strategic plan, Zimbabwe Cricket have reverted to the franchise system, with the Harare Metropolitan and Mashonaland Central provinces being paired to compete as Eagles.

Bulawayo Metropolitan, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces have been combined to make up the Tuskers franchise.

The two provinces of Midlands and Mashonaland West have been reunited under the Rhinos banner, while the fourth franchise, Mountaineers, is composed of Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East.

Academy side Rising Stars which won the Pro-50 title last season has been dismantled. The emerging players who made up the national academy side will be absorbed into the four franchises this time round.

The List A competition, the Pro50 Championship, will get the season underway on December 1 with Eagles hosting Tuskers at Harare Sports Club while Rhinos will be at home to Mountaineers at Kwekwe Sports Club.

Two days later, the first-class contest, the Logan Cup, will begin with the same teams facing each other at the same venues.

After two rounds of both competitions, the franchises will go for the Christmas break and return to action on 12 January.

Mountaineers will host their home matches at Mutare Sports Club, while Tuskers will play theirs at Queens Sports Club.

A Twenty20 tournament scheduled for March will bring the curtain down on the 2018-19 season.

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