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Zimbabwe in trying tri-series

Fans expect the national cricket team to dispense of the travails they suffered at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo against the Proteas and offer credible resistance and competitiveness against two of the games’ superpowers, South Africa and Australia starting next week.

Kevin Mapasure

South Africa will be stronger than they were in Bulawayo with the return of their speedstars Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

Australia have brought in their strongest possible side as injuries stripped them of David Warner and Shane Watson.

This is the kind of cricket Zimbabweans have been craving for and fans will demand the kind of fight worthy of an international team.

The three-match One day International series against South Africa, in which the tourists romped to victory in Bulawayo, has served more as a warm up for this triangular series.

From that series’ evidence Zimbabwe has little chance of causing its rivals much fuss and the triangular could be all about the tourists fighting it out. Yet on the other hand there are positives that Zimbabwe can dwell on and could yet make a contest out of this series.

Captain Elton Chigumbura knocked 90 runs in Zimbabwe’s otherwise low score of 165 in their final match of the three-match series in Bulawayo yesterday.

The top order remains an area of grave concern, Vusi Sibanda is struggling, Hamilton Masakadza lacks consistency and captain Brendan Taylor failed to fire in this series.

But the bowling has encouraged optimism ahead of the tri-series.
Tinashe Panyangara, Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori have all bowled well in the South African tour while John Nyumbu has spun his way into the limelight.

Prosper Utseya also bowled well in the ODI series and will stake a claim for a place in the squad to face the cricket giants.

Zimbabwe will announce a 20-man squad over the weekend and they are looking to use as many of those players as possible with one eye on the World Cup next year. But they will try to give themselves a fighting chance by putting in their best team at the start with Chatara, who missed the ODI series, set for recall.

The formats are different but Zimbabwe’s bowling line up showed they can trouble even the best batsmen in the world in a Test match, and they will be looking to build on that confidence.
Zimbabwe did not perform particularly well in the ODI series where they lost all matches but they made experiments in all three matches and will feel that when they send out their best team they can compete.

This is Australia’s first visit in a decade but most of the players in their squad for this tour visited Zimbabwe with their A side on a couple of occasions.

Zimbabwe know what to expect but the problem is how to deal with what they face. The tri-series will be important as it re-energises Zimbabwe cricket and the team can only use this grand stage to prove doubters wrong.

It will be tough against South Africa but more so against the number one ranked ODI side, Australia, lining up among others their brutal fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and captain Michael Clarke.

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