Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER national Under-19 cricket players, Brandon Mavuta and Ryan Murray have been added to the senior team’s 15-men squad for the tour of the triangular One Day International series in Bangladesh which gets underway on 15 January.
The tri-series also involves Sri Lanka, who were Zimbabwe’s last opponents in ODIs in July last year.
Mavuta, a leg spinner was the captain of the Zimbabwean juniors at the 2016 International Cricket Council Under-19 Cricket World Cup held in Bangladesh while Murray was the team’s wicketkeeper. Another youngster, Blessing Muzarabani, a non travelling reserve for that World Cup, who made his Test debut against South Africa last month but is yet to play for his country in ODIs has also been included. The three have been playing for the Rising Stars, a team mostly made up of young payers in the domestic first class competitions. Batting all rounder, Malcolm Waller has been recalled for the trip to Bangladesh after he was ignored for the visit to South Africa.
Axed from the squad which was in South Africa are the batting trio of Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva and Chamunorwa Chibhabha.
National team coach Heath Streak said the players have been training in Bulawayo and Harare since their return from South Africa with the official camp starting tomorrow before the team’s departure on Tuesday evening. Zimbabwe will play a warm up match against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI before the real action gets underway.
With his team having last played ODIs in July against Sri Lanka, Streak is optimistic his players can readjust quickly as they have been engaged in Test cricket for a while now.
“For us it’s a matter of getting back into it, we haven’t played ODIs in a long time, I am hoping the guys can get into it quickly it. Bangladesh is a tough side from past experience in Bangladesh, we are much more suited to the one day format. We can have some successes. I am hoping we can get into the swing of things quickly, this is really getting us prepared for the World Cup Qualifier. We want to get the players a bit of confidence and to understand their roles,’’ Streak said.
On the youngsters chosen, Streak said with skipper Graeme Cremer and Sikandar Raza being the frontline spinners, Mavuta is a slow bowling option in Bangladesh where there is a likelihood of playing three spinners in a match.
He described Murray as a talented youngster who has shown an ability to learn fast while Muzarabani is a player who has made a steady rise.
“Mavuta is our cover spin option, Raza and Cremer frontline spinners, often in Bangladesh you end up playing three spinners. Murray is young talent, we want to see him, he has done well at Under-19, he has shown lots of maturity, he is a specialist keeper and handy middle order batsman.
Muzarabani is someone we want to work with, he has been consistent in his performances,’’ Streak said.
The first match of the tri-series is on 15 January when Zimbabwe face Bangladesh at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. The three teams will play each other twice before the top two meet in the final on 27 January.
Zimbabwe squad: Graeme Cremer(captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Malcolm Waller, Ryan Murray, Peter Moor, Sikandar Raza, Solomon Mire, Christopher Mpofu, Brandon Mavuta, Tendai Chisoro, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani, Kyle Jarvis — @Mdawini_29