Zimbabwe, Netherlands gear up for series
Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe senior men’s cricket team welcomed all their senior players as they began the final preparations for One Day International series against the Netherlands which begins in Harare next Tuesday.
The selectors yesterday announced a full-strength squad for the three-match series as T20 World Cup hero Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl have returned to join the team from their franchise cricket commitments abroad.
The side was also boosted by the return from injury of Sean Williams and fast bowlers, Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani.
The key quintet missed the recent Test series against the West Indies in Bulawayo last month, with Muzarabani having been sidelined since last November when his old quadriceps muscle injury flared up while playing for Zimbabwe at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.
Williams fractured a finger during the white ball series against Ireland in January while Chatara suffered a thigh muscle injury during the same series.
Zimbabwe Cricket confirmed the players are now all fit again.
And, with Gary Ballance, Innocent Kaia, Wellington Masakadza and Richard Ngarava also available to face the Netherlands, Zimbabwe head coach Dave Houghton is excited to have a full-strength squad at his disposal, especially as the they aim to use the series to lay groundwork a second shot at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 set for India later this year.
“It’s great to have the whole team back and everyone fighting fit.
“It’s naturally our intention to win the series — however, in doing so, it is also an opportunity to try out different combinations to achieve that goal, with an eye on the upcoming World Cup qualifier tournament,” said Houghton, referring to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 that will be hosted in Zimbabwe from 18 June to 9 July to decide the final two participants for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India later in the year.
The ODI matches between Zimbabwe and the Netherlands — scheduled for March 21, 23 and 25 at Harare Sports Club — are part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League that is serving as the main route for direct qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
The 13-team league competition will see the top eight sides, including India as the hosts, earn direct qualification to the global showcase.
This will be Zimbabwe’s final outing in the Super League.
Both Zimbabwe, placed at 12th on the Super League points table with 45 points, and Netherlands, placed at 13th with 25 points, are out of contention for direct qualification to the World Cup.
Despite disappointment, the Chevrons skipper Craig Ervine believes that the series is still important for his side ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023.
Zimbabwe are set to welcome nine other opponents for this 10-team qualifying tournament set to run from June 18 to July 9 in Harare and Bulawayo, with only two slots available for the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup finals.
“I think the tour is very important for a couple of reasons,” Ervine said. “One being it’s a chance to look at some options ahead of the ICC Men’s World Cup Qualifier on home soil and what sort of team our selectors are looking at.
“Two, it’s an opportunity to keep the momentum going which has brought the crowds back to Harare Sports Club and which we want to carry through to the qualifiers. What we want to see again is the support we had during the 2018 qualifiers and we can only get that support by continuously winning games,” said Ervine.
The Netherlands have since announced a 17-member squad led by Scott Edwards. They have also made one change to the original squad, replacing Bas de Leede with 19-year-old Aryan Dutt, after the fast bowler was ruled out because of a heel injury.
The Dutch side arrived in Harare late afternoon yesterday.
ZIMBABWE ODI SQUAD:
Gary Ballance, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Craig Ervine (captain), Bradley Evans, Innocent Kaia, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Brandon Mavuta, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams
The Netherlands ODI squad:
Scott Edwards (captain and wicketkeeper), Colin Ackermann, Musa Nadeem Ahmad, Shariz Ahmad, Wesley Barresi, Tom Cooper, Aryan Dutt, Brandon Glover, Vivian Kingma, Fred Klaassen, Ryan Klein, Aryan Dutt, Roelof van der Merwe, Paul van Meekeren, Teja Nidamanuru, Max O’Dowd and Vikram Singh