By Kevin Mapasure
One year after killing Zimbabwe’s World Cup dream, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cricket team return to the scene of Zimbabwe’s destruction, Harare Sports Club, hoping to inflict more pain by taking the four-match one-day international (ODI) series starting tomorrow.
The UAE visit is not one of the big tours local cricket fans would have asked for, but it’s been six months since Zimbabwe has played on the international stage and it’s been longer since they played at home.
Those factors as well as that match on March 23 last year, when the UAE won by three runs after the application of the Duckworth and Lewis Method to blow Zimbabwe out of World Cup contention, have made this a highly anticipated series.
On that day, Zimbabwe only had themselves to blame after errors of judgment and wrong strategies by their technical team which was sacked following the failure, but the players and fans alike will be hoping for a whitewash, that would, in a small way, soothe the old pains.
While the likes of Afghanistan and West Indies were busy drawing up squads for the global showcase that takes place in England next month, Zimbabwe were putting together a 16-man squad that takes on the tourists.
Veterans Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor have been ruled out of this series.
They will not be as concerned as they would have been had Zimbabwe been on the World Cup list.
Over the last 12 months, Zimbabwe national cricket team players have been publicly pouring out their pain and anger at failing to make it to England.
This series somewhat gives them an opportunity to make a fresh start as they look to the future.
Peter Moor, who is being groomed to be the Zimbabwe captain, will be standing in as skipper, representing the start of a new era.
The national selectors, while they are keeping the experience, have looked to the future by calling up the uncapped pair of Ainsley Ndlovu and Tony Munyonga.
Timycen Maruma and Regis Chakabva have also returned following their lengthy absence from ODI cricket.
A lot has changed since that defeat. Captaincy, coaches and selectors have changed.
But the burning desire among the Zimbabwe players to do well, especially in front of their home fans, has not changed.
This would have been a low-key series, but it will not feel like that once things kick in tomorrow.
The UAE have proved that they are a competitive side and Zimbabwe would attest to that.
The likes of Mohammad Naveed and Rohan Mustafa will be looking to pick up from where they left the last time they played Zimbabwe.
In the Zimbabwe camp, there are a number of players who will be looking to prove a few points.
Questions have been raised over the selection of former skipper Elton Chigumbura who will be looking to prove that he is still full of fire.
PJ Moor (c), Solomon Mire, Brian Chari, Regis Chakabva, Sean Williams, Timycen Maruma, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu, Craig Ervine, Brandon Mavuta, Ainsley Ndlovu, Tony Munyonga, Elton Chigumbura