The Zimbabwe cricket national team will shuffle its line up in a bid to wring the runs — a factor which been lacking in their game of late — out of struggling batsmen.
Zimbabwe tackles New Zealand in the first of three ODIs at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Craig Ervine is likely to climb up the order to bat at number three, with Hamilton Masakadza joining Chamu Chibhabha in the opening role. Vusi Sibanda is likely to be reinvented from the accumulator he has been at the top for a long time, to an aggressor role in the lower middle order, if selected.
Zimbabwe’s main thrust is to strike consistency when they take on a strong New Zealand side, starting with the first match. While not giving away much captain Elton Chigumbura said there will be a couple of positional changes among the batters.
“There might be one or two positional changes depending on the requirements of each game, we have a very flexible batting line up,” said Chigumbura who is thriving in his new role at number four.
He said their main focus for this series against the Black Caps would be to improve on their batting, and to take chances when presented.
“We have been getting into positions and failing to utilise them (chances) in our more recent matches. We want to change that in this series. In every series there is always at least one chance to win the game and we want to be more ruthless and take up our opportunities.”
There have been sporadic performances by the batsmen in their last two series, with only Chibhabha showing consistency.
“Chamu has been doing well and he has been getting the runs consistently. We know that if we have at least three people playing like that we will give ourselves a better chance of winning matches. The other batsmen have to aim for more runs and consistency.”
Former Zimbabwe all-rounder Dirk Viljoen said the team needs to strengthen its middle order against New Zealand.
“I wouldn’t know what the plans are for the matches against New Zealand, but I think we have several options. In my view, judging from what we saw against India, we need to strengthen the middle order.”
He said one option would be to bat Chibhabha and Regis Chakabva as one and two while Masakadza comes in at three with Chigumbura, Ervine, Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza filling the rest of the positions in that order.
“I think our best number three is Hamilton Masakadza and Elton has proved he is good at number four. I think we are better off playing Chakabva at the top because he might not score as quickly as may be required at number seven.”
He said it might also be a good option to play either Raza or Williams at number three, if Masakadza is to open.
“Both Vusi and Ervine have been struggling but I think playing Vusi in the middle order would be a good option because he might not be getting the runs, but when he bats you can see he has got all the attributes. He is a good player.”
E Chigumbura (c), C Chibhabha, H Masakadza, C Ervine, S Williams, S Raza Butt, C Chakabva, G Cremer, P Utseya, T Panyangara, C Mpofu, V Sibanda, N Madziva, J Nyumbu and L Jongwe.