Fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani and Test captain Sean Williams headline the list of key players who have returned to the Zimbabwe cricket team squad ahead of the limited-overs home series against Afghanistan.
The Chevrons are seeking a quick turnaround of fortunes against Afghanistan after succumbing to a shock 3-2 series defeat against Namibia at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo last week.
After missing the services of seven established players against the Namibians due to injury or other reasons, Zimbabwe have been handed a timely boost with several players now back in the fold for the visit by Afghanistan.
Zimbabwe Cricket’s convener of selectors David Mutendera said the return of Muzarabani, test captain Sean Williams and other key players is expected to significantly strengthen the squad whose lack of depth was exposed during 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,” 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.”
Perhaps the biggest inclusion is that of Muzarabani who has been away at the Indian Premier League (IPL) since March.
Muzarabani’s experience was clearly missed against Namibia last week and his return is expected to significantly bolster Zimbabwe’s bowling department.
Zimbabwe is also set to welcome back limited-overs captain Craig Ervine and middle-order batsman Ryan Burl after the pair missed the series decider against Namibia after testing positive for Covid-19.
The duo 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 return while Test captain Williams will make his long-awaited return to action after Zimbabwe Cricket had granted him compassionate leave to attend to personal and private matters.
The Afghanistan series has however come too early for the duo of Richard Ngarava and Wellington Masakadza as they are yet to fully recover from the lower back and right shoulder injuries that ruled them out of the Namibia series.
Zimbabwe will first face Afghanistan in the three ODI matches scheduled for June 4, 6 and 9 June at Harare Sports Club.
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 to be played at the same venue on June 11, 12 and 14 June.
The T20I matches will serve as part of Zimbabwe’s final preparations for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier B 2022.
Zimbabwe will host the eight-team qualifying tournament in July with the top two teams qualifying for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 to be staged in Australia.