Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE cricket captain Hamilton Masakadza believes they will be able to raise the bar when they face neighbours South Africa in a limited overs tour beginning at the end of this month.
The neighbours are sceduled to face off in three one-day international matches and as many Twenty20 international games. The Chevrons will then proceed to Bangladesh for three ODIs and two Tests that run into November.
The Zimbabwe squad is expected to leave for South Africa next Wednesday.
And Masakadza, who has been named captain for all the formats, told the journalists this week that they have left no stone unturned in their preparations for the upcoming tours. The gulf in class between Zimbabwe and South Africa always manifests every time the two teams meet in the various formats but Masakadza has tipped his side to compete.
“The target is obviously to try and win as many games as we can. We are targeting two in each format so that we can at least have a chance to win the series.
“If we can do that then we start moving forward and most importantly keep improving as a team and keep growing from strength to strength,” said Masakadza.
Zimbabwe will need to do more to be on top of their game as they are coming from a 5-0 whitewash by Pakistan in their most recent series at home.
This debacle, which included being bowled out for 67 in one of the games, was preceded by a disappointing winless run in a Triangular T20I tournament which also involved Australia, again at home.
But then the Chevrons missed some of their key players who included Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Graeme Cremer and Sikandar Raza.
The trio of Taylor, Williams and Ervine has bounced back while Raza remains sidelined because of an unresolved labour dispute. The team has been in camp for over a month now as new coach Lalchand Rajput was trying to familiarise with his charges.
“It’s always good to be back to full strength team, to have everyone around and everyone available,” said Masakadza.
“The preparations are going on quite well. We have had a quite long camp. We only had a few weeks off after the last series. So we have been in camp for maybe five to six weeks and the guys are putting in quite a lot of hard work and I think it’s paying off.
“We have already seen some results in the practice games that we played. So I think the guys are ready and raring to go. Everyone is looking forward to the tour, to both tours in fact because we have got tours back to back.”
Zimbabwe have also received a massive boost with the return to full fitness of Solomon Mire and Kyle Jarvis, who have both made the squad for the South Africa ODI series together with Peter Moor, Tendai Chatara, Donald Tiripano and Wellington Masakadza.
The young and upcoming quartet of Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and Ryan Murray complete the 15-man ODI squad.
South Africa and Zimbabwe will get the series underway when they meet in Kimberley in the first ODI scheduled for 30 September, while Bloemfontein and Paarl will host the other two 50-over matches on 3 and 6 October.
Up next will be the T20I series, with the matches set for East London, Potchefstroom and Benoni on 9, 12 and 14 October respectively.
Ervine, Kamunhukamwe, Tiripano, Murray and Ngarava, who are in the ODI squad, will make way for Tarisai Musakanda, Chamu Chibhabha, Christopher Mpofu, Tendai Chisoro and Neville Madziva in Zimbabwe’s T20I side.
From South Africa, Zimbabwe will proceed straight to Bangladesh where they will play three ODIs and two Tests.
The first ODI is set for Dhaka on 21 October, with the other two matches pencilled in for Chittagong on 24 and 26 October.
Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will then meet in Sylhet for the first Test scheduled for 3-7 November, while the two sides will return to Dhaka for the second and final Test set for 11-15 November.
John Nyumbu and Musakanda will replace Murray and Kamunhukamwe in the ODI squad, with Cephas Zhuwao also joining the side in Bangladesh. Zimbabwe’s Test squad includes Brian Chari and Regis Chakabva.
SOUTH AFRICA TOUR:
Zimbabwe ODI Squad: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Murray, Tendai Chatara
Zimbabwe T20I Squad: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Solomon Mire, Neville Madziva, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Christopher Mpofu, Chamu Chibhabha, Wellington Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Tendai Chatara
Zimbabwe ODI Squad: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, John Nyumbu, Wellington Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Tendai Chatara, Cephas Zhuwao
Zimbabwe Test Squad: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Brian Chari, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Regis Chakabva, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, John Nyumbu, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara