Skipper Elton Chigumbura will miss the third Micromax Cup One Day cricket encounter at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium Monday after failing to recover from a left groin strain he suffered in the second One Day International (ODI) on Friday last week.
The 24 year old all-rounder who played 121 ODI matches featured in the six run defeat to the hosts on Friday last week, which leveled the series to 1-1.
“He’s definitely out of tomorrow’s (Monday) encounter due to a strain on his groin but we are closely monitoring his progress so that he is fit in time for the fourth game in Chittagong,” Amato Machikicho, the team’s physiotherapist confirmed in an interview on Sunday.
Chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell said in Chigumbura’s absence, his predecessor to the skipper’s role Prosper Utseya would take over as stand-in captain until his compatriot has fully recovered.
While the injury means he is ruled out for the third match, the hard hitting all-rounder faces a race for fitness before the last two matches in Chittagong on Friday and Sunday where his experience is going to be very crucial.
Chigumbura has struggled to recover completely from the groin strain since he returned from his base in the UK where he plays for Northamptonshire.
Usually a reliable all-rounder with both bat and ball, Chigumbura is yet to bowl in this series, while he has also struggled with the bat in the first two matches.
In both matches he has departed for identical knocks of seven runs, way below his high standards when he is fully fit.
He was however impressive in the field in the first match that Zimbabwe won by nine runs when he had a hand in one of the four run-outs completed by the tourists.
However, in the second match there were signs that he was not fully fit as he uncharacteristically dropped a straightforward catch at mid-on, after struggling to get behind the ball.
As a result of the injury he did not complete the whole innings on the field.
Meanwhile, the match which was initially scheduled as a day/night match will now take place during the day after there were technical problems with the newly installed floodlight system at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
The Zimbabwe team had a brief fielding session under the flood lights and it was clear they were not fully functional as there were areas on the pitch which did not have enough light.
The match will now start at 5am Zimbabwean time and both teams are tied at 1-1 after the two matches.
Utseya said playing the match during the day would be a positive development as most players were not used to playing in day/night matches.
“We hardly play day/night matches unless we are on tours so it’s something that I think might work in our favour although sometimes it doesn’t make that much of difference.
“However, the guys are more comfortable playing during the day and I hope the team that will represent Zimbabwe tomorrow (Monday) will do well and hopefully we will come out with a good result,” said Utseya.
The 25 year-old off-spinner, who has recently improved significantly with the bat is no stranger to the captaincy after leading the team from 2006 to May this year when he stepped down.
On the team’s expectations in today’s game he said:”It’s a must win for us for us to go into the last two games with the lead. Even though we lost the second game we have worked hard on our weaknesses and I’m confident that the guys will put up a better performance.”
On Chigumbura’s absence he said: “Elton is one of the key players in the team and it would have been nice to have him in the team but his injury is something that we cannot control.”
Meanwhile, top order batsman Hamilton Masakadza will have to pass a late fitness test after being selected for the second Micromax One Day Cup.
Masakadza suffered a wrist injury in the gym last week but was brought in as a replacement for Chigumbura.
Campbell said if Masakadza failed to recover in time for tomorrow’s match he would be replaced by all-rounder Ryan Butterworth, who will be making his debut for the national team.