BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) have brought back veteran coach Dave Houghton as they seek to put an end to a woeful run of poor results which have seen the national team struggle against minnows on the international stage in recent months.
The reshuffle of the technical team coincides with another bad performance by the senior men national team after it succumbed to another series whitewash against Afghanistan following a 35 run defeat in the third and final T20i match at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Lalchand Rajput, who has been in charge of the team since 2018 assumes a new role as technical director of the team, while Lance Klusener also returns as batting coach and the efforts to bring in a new bowling coach are at an advanced stage according to the changes announced following a board meeting yesterday.
The 64-year-old Houghton, a former Zimbabwe captain and coach, is expected to help the country qualify for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup via a tournament which will be staged in the country next month.
ZC director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza said the changes were made to help turn around Zimbabwe’s on-field fortunes as well as qualify for the T20I World Cup
“We are delighted to be bringing in Dave and we count ourselves fortunate and privileged to be able to appoint such a vastly experienced and highly respected coach at a time we are looking to improve our on-field performances,” he said.
“With Lance having also bounced back as batting coach, we believe we now have a formidable technical team that can push for World Cup qualification and ensure our players put in consistently competitive performances.”
“I would also like to thank Lalchand who has been in charge of the team for the past four years, an incredibly challenging period for our cricket.
“He will continue to be involved in our game as technical director and will provide invaluable support to the team,” Masakadza said.
Zimbabwe has struggled for results since Rajput’s appointment in 2018, having won six of the 38 ODIs and 13 out of 48 T20 matches.
This year alone, Zimbabwe only managed two wins in eight T20is against Namibia and Afghanistan, with the two victories coming against the former in an embarrassing 3 – 2 series defeat while the country has only one ODI triumph in six matches.
And the tour whitewash against Afghanistan prompted ZC to effect a reshuffle of the technical team.
In yesterday’s match, debutant spin-bowler Noor Ahmad starred with the ball after helping Afghanistan defend a modest total to claim a 35 run win and seal another series whitewash over against Zimbabwe in the third and final T20i at Harare Sports Club.
Zimbabwe was hoping to salvage some pride in the final match, having already lost the series, but Ahmad managed impressive figures of 4/10 to hand the visitors victory despite a poor performance with the bat.
Afghanistan, who have completely dominated this tour having already registered an identical series whitewash in the ODI matches, surprisingly struggled with the bat and could only manage 125 runs for the loss of eight wickets giving the hosts some hope to salvage some pride.
Mohammad Nabi top-scored for Afghanistan managing 31 runs from 30 balls while Afsar Zazai has 24.
But Zimbabwe made a mess of their chase and were bowled out for 90 with one wicket to spare in their allotted 20 overs as Ryan Burl top-scored with 15 and six other batters failing to reach double figures.
The visitors won the toss and chose to bat first.
The chase started on a promising note for the hosts with Wessley Madhevere showing intent, but lost his wicket to Ashraf after a 25 run opening partnership with Innocent Kaia contributing just 14 runs.
A run out for Kaia (12) sparked a batting collapse which saw Zimbabwe crumble from 40/1 to 69/9 with Ahmed the menace with ball while three run outs also compounded the hosts’ problems.
In the end, Zimbabwe managed 90 runs for the loss of nine wickets.
Zimbabwe I Kaia, W Madhevere, T Marumani, C Ervine, S Raza, C Madande, R Burl, D Tiripano, A Ndlovu, L Jongwe, T Chatara
I Janat, H Zazai, A Zazai, N Zadran, M Nabi, A Omarzai, S Ashraf, R Khan, NA Lakanwal, F Farooqi, N Masood
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