January 11, 2023

Chevrons, Ireland square-off

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Mehluli Sibanda

ZIMBABWE and Ireland are working hard at Harare Sports Club as the two teams prepare to collide in the first of three Twenty20 International cricket showdowns at the same venue tomorrow (Thursday).

The Chevrons, in camp since last week will have to do without their star player in white ball cricket last year, Sikandar Raza, who is skipping the T20I series to play for Rangpur Riders in the Bangladesh Premier League. Raza will join the team for the One Day Internationals that will follow the T20Is.

Former England batsman Gary Ballance is in line to represent the country of his birth for the first time at senior level after he was chosen for the series.

Coach Dave Houghton, Sean Williams and Gary Ballance

Ballance has never played this format of this game at international level and the left hander will make his debut at the age of 33.

The presence of Ballance should bring stability to the batting order where Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Wessly Madhevere, Ryan Burl and Luke Jongwe will also be key.

In the absence of Blessing Muzarabani, recently wedded left arm seamer Richard Ngarava is expected to spearhead the bowling attack for Zimbabwe with Tendai Chatara, Bradley Evans and Jongwe on the pace side of the bowling. In the spin bowling department, Williams and Burl can be relied upon to slow things down.

The two sides met in a first round fixture at the International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia and Zimbabwe won that match by 31 runs, which means the Irish will certainly be out for revenge.

In the last bilateral series clash in 2021, Ireland took the five-match contest 3-2 on Irish soil and Zimbabwe will go out with that in mind.

The Irish landed in Harare on Sunday and had their first fine tuning session at the match venue the next day.

Last year, the Chevrons brought some excitement with their brand of cricket after the coming in of Dave Houghton to replace Lalchand Rajput. Fans turned up in their thousands to back the boys in red in Bulawayo and Harare. The spectators, hungry for some live sporting action should be there in numbers at Harare Sports Club from tomorrow, with high expectations that the boys will not disappoint.

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