THE Chevrons are expected to arrive in Bulawayo this morning with their heads high for the limited overs’ series against the International Cricket Council’s associate member Afghanistan that starts on Friday.
Zimbabwe face the Afghans straight from a morale-boosting 2-1 one-day international series win against Ireland that ended in Harare yesterday.
The Chevrons went into yesterday’s dead rubber having already sealed the series and rested Craig Ervine, who scored a half-century and a ton in the first two matches.
Tinashe Panyangara was also rested and they were replaced by batsman Brian Chari and seamer Taurai Muzarabani.
Tim Murtagh shone with bat and ball as Ireland secured a consolation win in the third ODI.
Ireland pulled the score back to 2-1 with a nervy two-wicket win with Andy McBrine edging the winning runs with 19 balls to spare.
It appeared to be a straightforward chase for the tourists after Murtagh took a career-best four for 32 with the ball to dismiss Zimbabwe for just 187. Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza both made half-centuries, but they were made to work hard with the bat.
“The national team is arriving tomorrow (today)morning. They will have an afternoon training session at Queens Sports Club and a final training session on Thursday morning. Since they won in Harare, we’re hoping that they bring that winning attitude to Bulawayo and hopes are high that the Chevrons will give us some good cricket,” said Matabeleland Tuskers Cricket Franchise chief executive Stanley Staddon.
Zimbabwe are expected to easily brush aside Afghanistan in their five one-day games scheduled for October 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24.
Afghanistan arrived in Bulawayo last week and played three warm-up matches against the Zimbabwe Chairman’s XI winning two matches.
Just like the Chevrons, the Asians lost the final limited overs’ match by 34 runs.
Captain Regis Chakabva’s 92 led the Zimbabwe Chairman’s XI to a 34-run win over the Afghans at the Bulawayo Athletic Club on Monday.
Chakabva top scored in his side’s 215 after being sent in to bat to deny Afghanistan an undefeated record in their three-match warm-up.
Chakabva played a part in two key half-century stands to give the Chairman’s XI a defendable total.
Ryan Burl (20) put on a 59-run third wicket stand with Chakabva before the captain added another 54 for the sixth wicket with wicketkeeper Joylord Gumbie.
Chakabva fell eight runs of a deserved century in the 44th over to the bowling of Mohammad Nabi.
The opening bowling combo of Fareed Ahmad and Shapoor Zadran then returned late to wipe out the tail, bowling the hosts out in 49 overs.
Ahmad claimed 3 for 27 while Shapoor took 2 for 28 in his seven overs.
In reply, Afghanistan struggled to string together a solid partnership beyond the 50 put on by Mohammad Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai for the third wicket.
Both batsmen made 31 before being dismissed. Samiullah Shenwari was the only other batsman to cross 20 and nearly gave Afghanistan a third win with 57 off 75 balls.
Afghanistan needed to score 35 off the final 29 balls with two wickets in hand with Shenwari still at the crease, but Donald Tiripano had him caught behind in the second delivery of the 46th over to snuff out the victory threat.
Tiripano bowled Shapoor on the ensuing delivery to end the match and finish with figures of 3 for 15. – Sports Reporter/Online