ZC set for busy year

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THE Zimbabwe national cricket team is set for another busy international calendar next year when it will play against at least five nations.

Kevin Mapasure

In addition to the tours, some of which have already been confirmed, the team will also participate in the World T-20 to be staged in India between March 16 and April 3.

Before that, Zimbabwe will tour Bangladesh where they have two Tests scheduled against the hosts.

The two nations faced off in a limited overs series recently.

Zimbabwe lost the 50-over series 3-0 while the two-match T-20 series was drawn.

This year Zimbabwe had one of its busiest seasons, hosting India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Ireland and Afghanistan.

The team also had two tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh, having also participated at the International Cricket Council World Cup in Australia and New Zealand between February and March.

Next year Zimbabwe opens the season by hosting India with whom it enjoys cordial relations which has seen the Asians touring Zimbabwe yearly, in an arrangement that has boosted Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC)’s finances.

ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said they have planned another bumper season next year with New Zealand and Sri Lanka confirming their visits to Zimbabwe.

“We expect another busy season next year; India is coming and so are New Zealand and Sri Lanka,” said Mukuhlani.
“We are planning for a triangular series between Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.”

ZC is also exploring the possibility of hosting Pakistan next year, as well as Bangladesh who are expected to visit Zimbabwe.

Initial proposals include Test cricket with the likes of New Zealand and Sri Lanka, but Zimbabwe might opt to focus more on ODIs as they seek to gain crucial points for World Cup qualification.

“There are Tests for the New Zealand and Sri Lanka tours but we might have to postpone some of them since we are more worried about the World Cup,” said Mukuhlani.

“We are looking at the deadline for qualification to the 2019 tournament and we want to try and gain some points to get an automatic qualification spot.”

The top eight ranked nations on the ICC ODI rankings get automatic qualification, while the rest will have to go through a qualification process that involves associate sides.

Zimbabwe is currently ranked tenth in the world ahead of Ireland and Afghanistan, just behind the West Indies and Pakistan.

It hopes to emulate Bangladesh who have stormed the top eight to grab a place in the Champions Trophy ahead of the West Indies.

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