BATSMAN Hamilton Masakadza has replaced suspended Elton Chigumbura as captain for the final two one-day internationals (ODIs) for the Pakistan tour.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN LAHORE, PAKISTAN
Chigumbura was handed a two-match suspension by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after he pleaded guilty to a slow over rate in the first ODI which Zimbabwe lost by 41 runs on Tuesday.
Pakistan batted first in the match and Zimbabwe was adjudged to have been three overs behind.
Convenor of selectors Givemore Makoni confirmed Masakadza’s elevation yesterday.
“We have a number of options that we considered, but we settled for Masakadza,” Makoni said.
“He is one the most experienced players in the team at the moment. He has seen it all and in addition to that, he has been enjoying good form on this tour. He naturally fits the role.”
Only Prosper Utseya, who has played 158 ODIs, has played more than Masakadza, who will play his 149th match in this format today.
Masakadza (31) will step into Chigumbura’s shoes at the back of well constructed 73 in the last match and has also been touted as a replacement for Brendan Taylor as the Test captain.
Utseya, who is a former Zimbabwe captain, might have also come into consideration to captain the team for the rest of the tour, but the selectors settled for Masakadza’s experience and expertise.
Zimbabwe was, however, robbed of their most in-form player with the suspension of Chigumbura who scored his maiden tone in the first ODI.
Chigumbura has been leading from the front in this tour and is dispelling any concerns about his ability to handle captaincy while making his contribution to the team.
He scored a half century in the T-20 series and he won the most exciting innings award on two occasions on this tour.
Pakistan bowlers may well be pleased to learn he will not play as he brutalised them in the last match with 10 fours and four sixes.
But his absence means a slot has opened up for other batsmen and Charles Coventry could benefit, having been left out of the team that played the first match.
Chamu Chibhabha is also waiting in the wings as is Roy Kaia who has not seen any action so far in this tour.
The selectors now have a pool of 14 players to choose from after Craig Ervine suffered a grade one hamstring injury which has ruled him out of the final two matches.
Zimbabwe will go out in search for their first win on this tour and they will demand better from their bowlers if they are to stand any chance against Pakistan’s brilliant bowling attack.
Chigumbura decried too many boundary deliveries and Masakadza will ask his bowlers to be much tighter.
Tawanda Mupariwa could be given a chance today as one of the seamers.