Former Zimbabwe cricket captain Elton Chigumbura was left out of the squad to face Pakistan in the lone Test starting Thursday at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, after suffering a leg injury on the eve of the match.
Uncapped all-round spinner Lamb, who took three key wickets for the Zimbabwe XI in the warm-up match against the same opponents, was named as his replacement in the only change to the Zimbabwe squad.
Zimbabwe Cricket chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell said: “Unfortunately, Elton Chigumbura has suffered a leg injury and he should be having a precautionary scan on his leg, but it’s nothing serious and he should be back for the one-dayers.”
All-rounder Chigumbura was part of the Zimbabwe team that beat Bangladesh by 130 runs in their comeback Test against Bangladesh last month.
Although he scored just five runs in the first innings — the only chance he got to bat in the match, his contribution to the bowling department proved crucial, taking three wickets in the match.
On the coming in of Lamb, Campbell said the Mashonaland Eagles middle-order batsman would give the team an extra spinning option besides Ray Price while also contributing some runs with the bat.
“It’s good to have him (Greg Lamb) back in the side after some time on the sidelines due to injury, but he has always been a key player in the team. He will give our team some balance in both the bowling and batting departments as he showed in the warm-up match,” said Campbell.
Lamb (30) has played 14 one-dayers for Zimbabwe since his debut last year and boasts a decent first-class record with five centuries in 54 matches at an average of just under 33.
He comes back to the side after a lengthy period on the sidelines because of a shoulder injury.
He makes it to the Test pool after taking three wickets, including that of the experienced pair of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, in the tour match against the Pakistanis and following that up with a solid 40.
The conditions at the Queens Sports Club tend to aid batsmen, with spin coming into the game in a big way in the latter stages.
According to Campbell, the pitch has some grass, but is expected to dry out quickly and flatten into a batting beauty.
The seamers’ best chance will be with the new ball, and both teams will be keen to make first use of the pitch. Should Zimbabwe win the toss they might send the tourists in to bat first.
Pakistan’s performance in the warm-up game should have given Zimbabwe some confidence, as their batsmen — barring Younis and Azhar Ali — all crumbled against an attack less probing to the one they will face in the Test today.
In-form left-arm seamer Brian Vitori and the other quickies Christopher Mpofu and Kyle Jarvis, who are also capable, will hope to continue from where they left off against Bangladesh and look to take full advantage.
In the batting department skipper Brendan Taylor’s contributions will be crucial and Zimbabwe will look to their leader once again although he is expected to come in at number four behind Tino Mawoyo, Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza in that order.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Tatenda Taibu, Craig Lamb and Craig Ervine, who is desperate for some runs in this series, will form the backbone of the middle order.
“I think it is going to be a slight step up (from Bangladesh),” Taylor told said.
“I understand they (Pakistan) have left (out) two to three of their best players. But they do have good balance of experience and youth.
“They are going to be tough opposition. But we’ve been playing some good cricket of late and there is no reason why we can’t put up a good result.”
Brendan Taylor (captain), Greg Lamb, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Brian Vitori,
Pakistan Squad (possible)
1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Taufeeq Umar, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal / Shoaib Malik, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Junaid Khan, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Sohail Tanvir, 11 Aizaz Cheema / Sohail Khan