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FITNESS TEST TO DETERMINE WILLIAMS, MASAKADZA’S FATE

ZIMBABWE senior batsmen Hamilton Masakadza and Sean Williams will undergo another mandatory fitness test today that will determine their participation in the five-match one-day international (ODI) cricket series against Afghanistan, which gets underway tomorrow at Harare Sports Club. BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The duo, together with opening batsman, Chamu Chibhabha and spinner, Tendai Chisoro, were all left out of the 14-man squad announced last week after they failed to pass the minimum fitness standards set by the team management.

While the four players were given a chance to force their way into the squad over the weekend, after Zimbabwe Cricket selectors left two places available to those who perform well in the opening round of the Pro50 Championship, NewsDay Sport understands that they will still have to undergo another fitness test, which takes place this morning.

The quartet will each be hoping to grab one of the two available places in the squad for the important series, where the hosts will be desperate to finally secure a series victory over Afghanistan.

The Asians, who are yet to lose a series against Zimbabwe, last toured the country in October 2015, where they humiliated the then Dave Whatmore-coached side by clinching the ODI and T20I series 3-2 and 2-0 respectively at Queens Sports Club.

Masakadza scored a 61-ball 59 for Mountaineers in their opening Pro-50 Championship match against Mashonaland Eagles, but it was not enough for his team, as they lost by three runs via the (Duckworth/Lewis method). Chibhabha had earlier chipped in with 36 runs off 65 deliveries, as Mash Eagles reached 257 for eight before Mountaineers fell just short.

Williams also fared well in the Pro-50 Championship, with an unbeaten 47 during Tuskers’ seven wicket victory over Mid-West Rhinos.

The biggest beneficiary from last weekend’s Pro50 Championship was, however, young fast bowler Richard Ngarava despite taking just one wicket during the two matches.

The lanky left-arm seamer, who took three wickets for 24 runs in seven overs during the Zimbabwe A’s consolation victory over Afghanistan A, is set to be rewarded by being included in the senior side.

The inclusion on Ngarava could see Zimbabwe going into the Afghanistan series with a squad of 17 players, which is not unusual for a side playing at home.

Another rising young player, who has caught the eye of the selectors is 20 year-old opening batsman, Tafara Mpariwa, following his scores of 68 and 31 for Tuskers at the weekend.

Younger brother to Australia-based seamer, Tawanda, Mpariwa is a product of Durban High School in South Africa and last year featured for the Kwazulu Natal Under-19 side.

The selectors are, however, unlikely to gamble on Mpariwa after having already included two other uncapped players, batsman Ryan Burl and all-rounder, Nathan Waller, a cousin of another Zimbabwe batsman, Malcolm.

The pair were the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing series between Zimbabwe A and Afghanistan A recently, which the latter won 4-1.

Zimbabwe squad: Graeme Cremer (captain), Peter Moor (wicketkeeper), Ryan Burl, Tarisai Musakanda, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Nathan Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Wellington Masakadza, Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chatara, Christopher Mpofu, Craig Ervine, Solomon Mire.

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