BATSMAN Hamilton Masakadza has replaced suspended Elton Chigumbura as captain for the final two One Day Internationals on the Pakistan tour.
KEVIN MAPASURE IN LAHORE, PAKISTAN
Chigumbura was handed a two-match suspension by the International Cricket Council after pleading guilty to a slow over rate in the first ODI which Zimbabwe lost by 41 runs on Tuesday.
Pakistan batted first in the match and Zimbabwe was adjudged to have been three overs behind.
Convenor of selectors Givemore Makoni confirmed Masakadza’s elevation yesterday.
“We have a number of options that we considered, but we settled for Masakadza,” said Makoni.
“He is one the most experienced players in the team at the moment. He has seen it all and in addition to that he has enjoyed good form on this tour. He naturally fits the role.”
Only Prosper Utseya, who has played 158 ODIs, has played more than Masakadza who fulfills his 149th match in this format today.
Masakadza (31) steps into Chigumbura’s shoes on the back of a well-constructed 73 in the last match, and has also been touted as a replacement for Brendan Taylor as Test captain.
Former Zimbabwe captain Utseya was also considered to captain the team for the rest of the tour, but the selectors settled for Masakadza’s experience and expertise.
With the suspension of Chigumbura who scored his maiden ton in the first ODI Zimbabwe will miss their most in-form player.
Chigumbura has been leading from the front on this tour, dispelling concerns over his ability to handle the captaincy while making a meaningful contribution to the team.
He scored a half century in the T-20 series and has won the most exciting innings award on two occasions on this tour.
Pakistan bowlers may well be pleased to learn that Chigumbura will not be playing as he brutalised them in the last match with ten fours and four sixes.
But his absence means a slot has opened up for another batsman and Charles Coventry — left out of the team that played the first match — could benefit. Chamu Chibhabha is also waiting in the wings as is Roy Kaia who has not seen any action so far on this tour.
The selectors now have a pool of 14 players to choose from after Craig Ervine suffered a grade one hamstring injury which has ruled him out of the final two matches.
Zimbabwe will go out in search of their first win on this tour and need better from their bowlers if they are to stand any chance against Pakistan’s brilliant batting attack.
Chigumbura decried too many boundary deliveries and Masakadza will ask his bowlers to be much tighter. Tawanda Mupariwa could be given a chance today as one of the seamers.