ZIMBABWE will be looking to lay down a marker ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2022 with a strong outing in the five-match Twenty20 international series against Namibia that gets underway this afternoon at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.
The home side goes into the series with a powerful 18-man squad led by limited-overs captain Craig Ervine, alongside fellow seasoned campaigners Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva and Tendai Chatara.
“We need to hit the ground running as we cannot afford missing out on the T20 World Cup, with the Namibia series presenting us with a great opportunity to fine-tune our team for the qualifiers,” Zimbabwe Cricket’s convenor of Selectors David Mutendera said.
Zimbabwe will in July host the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier B, 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. Namibia have already qualified on the back of their fine performances at the last tournament.
The squad that will face Namibia includes seven players who were recently on tour with the Zimbabwe A team in Nepal — Tony Munyonga, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Luke Jongwe, Brandon Mavuta, Bradley Evans, Innocent Kaia and Victor Nyauchi.
Wellington Masakadza and Richard Ngarava are missing out through injury, while Blessing Muzarabani is at the Indian Premier League.
“We had to get all the best available players for this series, from the experienced Raza to the upcoming Tony Munyonga,” Mutendera said.
“The coach asked for a squad of 18 and we backed him as this will not only allow for the rotation of players but will also give us an opportunity to have a look at those players who have been on the sidelines ahead of the qualifiers.”
The Namibians, who are still riding high in confidence following their historic feat at the last ICC T20 World Cup 2021, have maintained faith in their personnel led by their 27-year-old skipper Gerhard Erasmus.
They have also included in their squad tried and tested players like David Wiese, Ruben Trumpelmann, Jan Frylinck, JJ Smit and Bernard Scholtz and Craig Williams, who is the oldest member at 38 years.
Wicket-keeper Zane Green is also available, though the loss of Stephen Baard to injury means another shuffle at the top of the batting order.
The gate charges are US$2 for access to the stadium’s grandstand and US$1 for the rest of the ground for fully vaccinated fans against COVID-19.
ZIMBABWE T20I SQUAD:
Craig Ervine (captain), Ryan Burl, Sikandar Raza Butt, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Tanaka Chivanga, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Ernest Masuku, Brandon Mavuta, Tony Munyonga, Richmond Mutumbami, Victor Nyauchi, Milton Shumba, Donald Tiripano — ZimCricket/Sports Reporter