Zimbabwe braces for Pakistan ‘A’ tour

Enock Muchinjo

THE Pakistan “A” cricket side which tours Zimbabwe next month is expected to bring a strong team. The Asians should include players who have already played for their senior side an

d did not make the team for their ongoing series with India that ends on Sunday.


Zimbabwe are hoping for stern competition from the Pakistanis, as part of preparations ahead of the new international season starting in August. The Pakistan “A” series comprises two four-day games and three one-day games.


Previous Zimbabwean teams have been involved in memorable competitive encounters with Pakistan sides at senior level and, presumably, their “A” side will come with all guns ablaze. Zimbabwe won their first Test series against Pakistan in 1994 and, a year-and-a-half later, the Zimbabweans were recording their first away Test series victory, again at the expense of the Pakistanis.


However, Pakistan had the lion’s share of success thereafter, winning in most of the Tests and one day international matches since 1992.


The Zimbabwe “A” side is expected to include national team players who did not do particularly well in the Test tour to South Africa, the former dissenting players who have now returned to duty and the best performing Zimbabwe “A” players from their last series with Bangladesh “A”.


The final team will be named after the last round of the Logan Cup next week. However, performances in the ongoing Logan Cup will be the final determining factor in the team’s selection.


There are early indications of players likely to catch the attention of selectors after last week’s Logan Cup matches and partly this week’s matches. Despite the poor performances by Midlands and Manicaland on the third day of the matches in last week’s round of matches, there was individual glow on display and it seems that quite a good number of players will be jostling for selection in the “A” side.


There was a maiden first-class century for 18-year-old Friday Katseni, while the bowlers had good spells on occasions. Matabeleland spin bowling all-rounder, Keith Dabengwa, is another player who will have another chance to impress at first-class level as he advances within reach of an international career.


More prospective players will emerge when this week’s round of matches are completed.


The most intense of competition for selection will be on the bowling side, where a number of seam bowlers have impressed so far.


Andy Blignaut has bowled his usual tempting pace on his return, and has scored runs too. Then there are a host of other pace bowlers such as Mashonaland’s Waddington Mwayenga and the Midlands duo of Ian Nicolson and Anthony Ireland. There is also Matabeleland’s Gregory Strydom and Chamunorwa Chibhabha of Mashonaland, whose all-round abilities are an added advantage.


The Pakistan “A” matches should also provide an opportunity for Midlands batsman Vusumuzi Sibanda, if selected, to put himself into the picture again after he was dropped for the tour to South Africa due to poor performance in the foregoing tour to Bangladesh.


The younger players still trying to settle in the national side, the likes of Christopher Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Sean Williams and Graeme Cremer, will benefit from such international first-class opportunity.


Most of the former dissenting players should be selected for the “A” side after a year in the wilderness, and they have to play well to be selected. Overall, there will be a lot of competition for selection into the national “A” side.