The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
FIVE players are in line for an introduction into Test cricket when Zimbabwe face Sri Lanka in a two-match series which starts at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Batsmen Kevin Kasuza, Brian Mudzinganyama, bowlers Ainsley Ndlovu, Charlton Tshuma and Victor Nyauchi have been named in the final squad of 15 for the two Tests. Zimbabwe Cricket announced on Wednesday the 15 who made it from a squad of 25 that was called into camp last week.
With Hamilton Masakadza now retired and Brian Chari, his opening partner the last time Zimbabwe played a Test in November 2018 not in the final squad left out, Kasuza is a strong contender to make his Test debut at the top of the order. The 26-year old Kasuza has scored 2 808 runs in 57 first class matches at an average of 31.02 and best score of 132 not out.
Kasuza is likely to open the batting with Prince Masvaure who has done well as an opener for Rhinos in this season’s Logan Cup. Brian Mudzinganyama has made an excellent start to his first-class career with Rangers. The left hander has compiled 252 runs at an average of 42 and high score of 128 against Rhinos at the end of last month. With just three first class matches, it is highly unlikely that Zimbabwe can take a chance with Mudzinganyama at the top of the order.
Whoever is chosen to open, they should lay a good foundation for Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, captain Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza who are all certain to complete Zimbabwe’s batting line up.
Kyle Jarvis is most likely to share the new ball with Donald Tiripano while Carl Mumba, back from a knee operation is expected to make a return to Test cricket against the same opponents he made his debut against at the same venue in 2016.
Should Zimbabwe opt for four seamers, then this will leave Charlton Tshuma and Victor Nyauchi to fight for that one slot. Tshuma has the edge having picked up 13 wickets for Rangers in three matches, with best figures of four for 28 runs against Eagles. Nyauchi has taken 10 wickets for Mountaineers in three matches, with a best of four for 59 against Rangers early this month.
Left arm spinner Ndlovu is the only specialist spinner selected in the squad of 15 and could make his debut if Zimbabwe opt for a slow bowler to complement the attack.
Zimbabwe final squad for Sri Lanka Tests: Sikandar Butt, Regis Chakabva, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Kevin Kasuza, Timycen Maruma, Prince Masvaure, Brian Mudzinganyama, Carl Mumba, Ainsley Ndlovu, Victor Nyauchi, Brendan Taylor, Donald Tiripano, Charlton Tshuma, Sean Williams (captain)