BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE will be boosted by the return of the experienced duo of former captain Brendan Taylor and Craig Ervine for the upcoming series against Pakistan, which begins on Wednesday after they showed their class during the Domestic Twenty20 Competition that ended on Friday.
The experienced duo missed last month’s Test and Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi after failing to join the national team camp due to illness.
A youthful Zimbabwe side, which was missing several experienced players drew the Test series against Afghanistan 1-1 before suffering a disappointing whitewash in the three-match T20I series.
After a poor finish against Afghanistan, Zimbabwe have beefed up their squad by including experienced players such as Ervine and Taylor for the tough home series against an inform Pakistan.
Ervine made a solid statement of intent to regain his place in the team after finishing top of the scoring charts during Zimbabwe’s Domestic Twenty20 Competition, which ended on Friday.
The 35 year-old left handed batsman ended the competition on a high with another batting masterclass to propel Tuskers to their second domestic T20 crown when they beat Eagles by 69 runs in the final at Old Hararians.
Ervine was voted man-of-the-match for his match winning knock of 65 off 47 balls, which was his third successive match winning performance with the bat after his 51 against Rhinos and the unbeaten 120 against Mountaineers.
Ervine’s match winning innings meant he finished clear at the top of the leading scorers in the tournament with 250 runs from five matches at an impressive average 62.50 and a strike rate of 166.66 .
Former captain Taylor also enjoyed a good run of form in the T20 competition after finishing third on the run-scoring charts with 205 runs from four matches. The wicketkeeper batsman had the highest average (68,33) and individual score (140*) of the competition and will be looking to take the form into the upcoming visit by Pakistan.
Taylor, however, finished behind the gifted Zimbabwe Under-19 star Tadiwanashe Marumani of Southern Rocks, who stole the show during the tournament by finishing second on the scoring chats.
The 19 year-old sensation, who only made his domestic T20 debut at the start of the tournament scored four half centuries in five matches, finished the competition with 228 runs from five matches with an average of 57 and a strike rate of 159.44.
Marumani’s performances have earned him a maiden call up to the Zimbabwe T20 side where he is one of the three uncapped players in the squad together with seamer Tanaka Chivanga and spin bowler Tapiwa Mufudza.
Allrounder Luke Jongwe, who last played international cricket in January 2016, has also bounced back after he was named in the 15-man squad.
Veteran Sikandar Raza is the major absentee due to injury while the quintet of Richmond Mutumbami, Milton Shumba, Brandon Mavuta, Tarisai Musakanda and Faraz Akram, who were part the squad that faced Afghanistan have been dropped.
Meanwhile Pakistan were expected to arrive in the country yesterday ahead of series, which includes for three Twenty20 internationals (T20Is) and two Test matches.
The tour will begin with the T20I series scheduled for Wednesday, Friday and next Sunday before the two teams shift their focus to the longer version of the game.
All matches will be played at Harare Sports Club with no spectators allowed in the stadium due to COVID-19 protocols.
Zimbabwe T20I Squad:
Williams Sean (captain), Burl Ryan, Chakabva Regis, Chivanga Tanaka, Ervine Craig, Jongwe Luke, Kamunhukamwe Tinashe, Madhevere Wessly, Marumani Tadiwanashe, Masakadza Wellington, Mufudza Tapiwa, Muzarabani Blessing, Ngarava Richard, Taylor Brendan, Tiripano Donald.