NATIONAL cricket team selectors are set to chop and change their batters as they seek better fortunes for the team which was recently bruised and battered by India in a five match One-Day International (ODI) series.
Chamu Chibhabha, who has been playing club cricket in England, has received an SOS call to return home to contend for a place in a batting line-up that was out of sorts against the accomplished World Champions.
The selectors are not particularly pleased with the top six batsmen who took turns to make starts while failing to convert that into big scores.
The opening partnership is of particular concern with Chibhabha and Tino Mawoyo, who returns into contention after an injury-induced lay-off, set to be thrown into the fray to increase competition.
Vusi Sibanda and Sikandar Raza Butt combined to face the new ball in all five matches that Zimbabwe lost.
Sibanda managed a half century in the second match which Zimbabwe lost by 58 runs while Raza scored 82.
Selectors’ chairperson Givemore Makoni confirmed there will be a few additions and subtractions from the squad that was outplayed by India but declined to give names.
“We are working on the squad. We have not yet finalised anything, but obviously we are looking to get better performances. So there might be changes,” said Makoni.
“But what is more important is for us to make sure we get the best out of the top six batsmen. Some of them got those starts against India but failed to convert while others struggled throughout.
“The message is very clear, we have tried many combinations which have failed to work at the top and these guys should know that time is running out. We might be forced to usher in younger players if the seniors continue to fail. We are hoping they will improve against Pakistan and be able to build partnerships and score half centuries and centuries.”
The national team broke camp after the India tour and are set to re-group on Tuesday.
Captain Brendan Taylor scored three ducks and his highest score was 23 in the third ODI where Zimbabwe lost by seven wickets.
Malcolm Waller also struggled with the bat where he scored two, two, zero, 35 and eight in the five matches.
Hamilton Masakadza, batting at number three, got into the 30s three times but failed to carve out a half tone.
Makoni said he was disappointed that it was only in the first two matches that the team gave themselves a chance to win the match.
“The last three matches, we just surrendered so easily. In the first two we were not particularly competitive but it was better.
In the second ODI we controlled three quarters of the game but the World Champions showed their class and won the match.
Pakistan has got a very good bowling line-up, there will be no let-off for our batsmen, and they will need to improve.”
Zimbabwe has been reliant on Taylor in the last few years and once he lost form in the last series, the team struggled to put competitive runs on the board or to chase competitive scores.
Credit should also be given to Elton Chigumbura who excelled with the bat, scoring 43, 46, three, 50* and 17 respectively batting at number seven.
He often came in to do damage control than cause harm himself.
On the other hand the bowling department shone bright with Kyle Jarvis, Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya leading the way.
A new challenge awaits them against a formidable Pakistani team after the tourists, who arrive in Harare on August 19, named strong squads for the three formats.
The two T-20s will be played on August 23 and 24 while the three ODIs will be played at the Harare Sports Club on August 27, 29 and 31.
The first Test is set for the same venue from September 3 while the second and final will be played at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo from September 10.
Test squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Asad Shafiq, Khurram Manzoor, Adnan Akmal (wk), Faisal Iqbal, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil
ODI squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shahzad, Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Abdul Rehman, Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail
T20 squad: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shahzad, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Zulfiqar Babar, Asad Ali, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail.