Zimbabwe Cricket’s selection panel on Monday kept faith in the same players who did duty during the Bangladesh series after naming a largely unchanged side for the forthcoming Test match against Pakistan starting on Thursday.
The only change to the side was the omission of the injured seam bowler Keegan Meth who suffered a laceration to the lower lip and lost three upper-row teeth after being hit in the mouth by a Nasir Hossain full-blooded straight shot in the final One Day Internationals (ODI) against Bangladesh in Bulawayo on August 21.
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell said Meth’s replacement would only be named tomorrow after fully assessing the conditions at Queens Sports Club.
The national selection panel resisted the temptation of making any changes to the squad they named for the Bangladesh series last month, instead opting for continuity.
Zimbabwe won the Test match against Bangladesh by 130 runs, marking a winning return to the longer version after a six-year absence.
“It’s basically the same squad that we named for the Bangladesh series with the exception of Keegan Meth who is still recovering from that nasty injury.
“So the 14 players we named the last time remain the same and we will be naming the 15th player on the eve of the match, depending on the conditions at the match venue and the performances from the practice match,” Campbell said in a brief interview with NewsDay Sport on Monday.
Impressive left-arm fast bowler Brian Vitori, who sat out the last two ODIs, because of a shin injury, will make a return to the fold after having fully recovered.
The Masvingo-born speedster who was in sizzling form against Bangladesh looks set to be joined by fellow seamers Chris Mpofu and Kyle Jarvis in the seam attack.
Skipper Brendan Taylor, who scored a century on his debut as captain against Bangladesh before being named man of the match will again be expected to form the backbone of Zimbabwe’s batting line-up together with rejuvenated Vusumuzi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza and Tatenda Taibu.
All rounder Elton Chigumbura will be under pressure to get some runs under his belt, despite some encouraging cameos with the ball and so is left-hander Craig Ervine, who has been far from impressive and is desperate for a good knock. Sibanda, who had knocks of 78 and 38 in the first and second innings respectively during the Bangladesh match is likely to open the batting with Tino Mawoyo.
Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (Captain), Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Christopher Mpofu, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (Captain), Aizaz Cheema, Azhar Ali, Junaid Raja, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Younis Khan, Adnan Akmal, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Seed Ajmal, Sohail Khan, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Shah