Chevrons target Ireland scalp

File pic: Chevrons

REJUVINATED Zimbabwe will be looking for a winning start to the year when they play visiting Ireland in the first match of the three-match T20I series at Harare Sports Club this afternoon.

Ireland are in the country for a white ball tour which will also see them play a three-match ODI series as well.

This is the first match that the Chevrons will be playing since they reached the Super 12 stage at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia last year.

Interestingly the two teams last met in this format at the World Cup, in the first round of the competition which took place in October and November last year with the Chevrons claiming a 31-run victory.

It is a perfect opportunity for the Irish to get their revenge against a Zimbabwe side which is missing two key players, Sikandar Raza and Blessing Muzarabani.

Ireland are also without the pair of Paul Stirling and Josh Little due to franchise cricket commitments.

Captain Craig Ervine feels playing at home gives Zimbabwe a slight advantage over Ireland.

“They are missing two key players and we are also missing two key players in Sikandar Raza and Blessing Muzarabani but having this series here on home turf gives us the advantage but we know the Irish are a tough competitive opponent so we can't take them lightly at all," Ervine told journalists yesterday.

"We want to play fearless cricket; we want to play entertaining cricket. There's a fine line between being positive and being reckless  and that's the balance we have to strike form this series onwards.

"We have had a nice little break, a little reset obviously we were playing in the domestic league through December, but everyone is very excited to start off the new year with a series against Ireland especially here at home.There has been a lot of energy over the last couple of training sessions, but everybody is looking forward to the series," he added.

The spotlight in this series will also be on former England international Gary Ballance who has switched allegiance and will be playing his first match for the country.

Ballance, who played 23 Tests and 16 ODIs for England, is expected in the top order batting line up where the Chevrons have struggled in recent years.

Ervine shared his sentiments on the coming in of the Zimbabwe born cricketer.

"He has fitted in well. I think he has enjoyed the short camp that we have had. I don't think he somebody who will bump head with somebody. He is a pretty relaxed easy going guy so he has fitted in well with everybody. I think what he will bring to the table is a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge. He has played highest level cricket having played a few games for England so I think everyone is looking forward to his contribution in the team," he said.

Also missing from the team that played at the World Cup is wicketkeeper-batsman Regis Chakabva who has since relocated to Australia.

Youngsters Tadiwananshe Marumani and Clive Madande are the two wicketkeepers who could get the nod this afternoon.

Milton Shumba did not make the team, while Marumani, Innocent Kaia and Victor Nyauchi are the new faces in the team.

Star all-rounder Raza, who was named among the nominee for ICC’s cricketer of the year, has been granted permission to play in the UAE’s ILT20, where he will represent Dubai Capitals.

Zimbabwe Squad: Craig Ervine (capt), Gary Ballance, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Sean Williams.

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