Confident Zim off to New Zealand

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The national cricket team left the country yesterday for their tour of New Zealand, encouraged by their performance against the same team in the reverse series at home in November last year.

Zimbabwe who will be on their first away assignment since their return to Test cricket will play a one-off Test, three one-day internationals (ODIs) and two Twenty20 (T20) matches against the Black Caps.

The last time the two teams met Zimbabwe chased down a score of more than 300 runs for the first time in their ODI history before narrowly losing the one-off Test match by 34 runs after losing their last seven wickets in the final session on day five.

Buoyed by that performance, assistant coach Steven Mangongo said the display at home had shown the team was now capable of competing against any team.

I think we will compete and Im sure even our hosts will know that we are no longer pushovers. Obviously this is going to be a defining tour for the team and the boys are excited by the challenge as this is our first tour away from home since our comeback to Tests.

We have shown that we are capable of competing against any team in our own conditions, but the challenge is how we adjust to their conditions, which is where some of our senior players will have to step up, said Mangongo.

Brendan Taylor is the ideal leader of the team and will be crucial for the teams fortunes. Obviously by now he has acclimatised to local conditions which is shown by his performance during his short stint in their league.

He will know how some of their players have been playing and that will be very significant for us, as he is always a key figure in the team meetings, said Mangongo.

Zimbabwe will commence their tour of New Zealand with a warm-up match at the Harry Barker Reserve Cricket Ground in Te Hapara, Gisborne, starting on Saturday before the Test match set for January 26 at McLean Park in Napier.

The teams will then square off in limited overs competition starting with the three-match ODIs and two T20s from February 3-14.

Squads: Zimbabwe Brendan Taylor (captain), Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer (Test only), Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingirai Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Forster Mutizwa, Raymond Price, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Prosper Utseya (limited-overs only), Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller
New Zealand Test: Ross Taylor (capt), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, Kruger van Wyk, B.J. Watling, Kane Williamson.

New Zealand XI: Ross Taylor (captain), Brent Arnel, Michael Bracewell, Chris Martin, Andy McKay, Tarun Nethula, Kruger van Wyk, Daniel Vettori, Neil Wagner, Sam Wells, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.