Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe women’s cricket team captain, Mary-Anne Musonda, says the Lady Chevrons are excited to break the international duck when they begin the one-day series against Pakistan at Harare sports Club today.
The hosts, who were starved of game time since May 2019, will start off as the underdogs in this three-match one-day series.
The two teams will engage in three T20Is afterwards.
The series, which marks the end of Zimbabwe’s two-year hiatus from international cricket, will be played behind closed doors in line with the coronavirus lockdown measures.
All the games will be streamed live on YouTube.
“We are so excited to be hosting Pakistan for the first time. “The girls are so excited after almost 22 months without playing international games.
“The mood is very good, we would really want to compete and we hope to keep everyone interested in the series,” said Musonda.
The women’s team have been in a bubble for the past few days as they battled to have the best preparation under the difficult coronavirus lockdown situation.
Zimbabwe are looking to punch above their weight, considering the lack of proper preparations, because of the ban on domestic sport.
The series has been welcomed as a huge opportunity for the team to get their form and combinations back.
“What we are trying to do is to make sure that the squad gets the first steps towards preparations for the Qualifiers.
“Of course, we are looking to win but most of all is to get combinations, our batters and our bowlers, trying to pitch our competitions and to make sure that all departments will be working together smoothly.
“So, mostly, it’s about our combinations and trying to get back our routines, try to psyche up ourselves up for those qualifiers.
“This tour kind of give us a rough idea where we are before these qualifiers.”So, we have five to six months to work on that before those qualifiers,” said Musonda.
Pakistan are ranked seventh on the ICC rankings while Zimbabwe are not ranked since they do not have ODI status. Back home, in Pakistan, the country was yesterday plunged in ecstasy after the men’s team defeated South Africa by 95 runs to seal the Test series.
But, the women’s side have some redemption work to do after they lost their recent series in South Africa.
The Pakistan women arrived in Zimbabwe on the back of a 3-0 One Day International whitewash in South Africa. This was followed by a 2-1 defeat in the T20 Internationals.
Despite losing five games in South Africa, Pakistan captain, Javeria Khan, said they were looking to use the Zimbabwe series to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to be playing six matches, after the South Africa tour, which will help us in our preparations for the ICC women’s World Cup qualifiers.
“This series serves as an opportunity for the young players to grab their opportunity and leave a mark.
“We come into the series after a good and competitive series against South Africa and we are looking forward to victory,” said Khan.
Zimbabwe have an experienced squad that includes Precious Marange, Modester Mupachikwa, Josephine Nkomo, Ashley Ndiraya, Tasmeen Granger and Nomvelo Sibanda.
They also have new faces in Francesca Chipare and 15-year-old Kellies Ndlovu.Christabel Chatonzwa and Esther Mbofana, who were both not part of the last women’s side to represent Zimbabwe in international cricket back in May 2019, have made the cut this time round.
Zimbabwe and Pakistan women have never faced each other in a bilateral series before.
The other two 50-over matches are pencilled in for this Thursday and Sunday.
The T20I matches will be played next week.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe and Ireland have agreed to postpone the men’s cricket series, for the second time inside a year, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ireland Men’s squad was due to fly to Harare on 28 March 2021 and play a three-match T20 International series, followed by a three-match one-day international series in April.
However, Zimbabwe Cricket officials advised Cricket Ireland that the planned tour to Zimbabwe in April cannot proceed at present due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation in the country.
Zimbabwe Cricket and Cricket Ireland have agreed to reschedule the tour for a later date.
Richard Holdsworth, High Performance Director for Cricket Ireland, said “We’re obviously disappointed, but to be honest, it is not an unexpected announcement from our Zimbabwean counterparts.
“We appreciate their efforts and willingness to try and make the tour possible, but in the end, the health and safety of players and support staff must be of primary consideration.
“We’ll now look at whether alternate fixtures can be arranged during that period, which is a crucial window, in advance of a busy home season and in a T20 World Cup year.
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“This places even greater importance on the proposed Ireland Wolves tour in February/March given the need to provide many of our players the volume, and quality of cricket, we need to keep the momentum in player development we have been seeing over the last few years.
“We expect to be providing an update on the Wolves situation in coming days.”
The postponed ODIs against Zimbabwe were not part of the ICC World Cup Super League.
Those fixtures against Zimbabwe are scheduled to be played in Ireland this summer.
The Ireland Men’s year ahead is still a potentially busy 12 months, with three visiting teams during the summer, several scheduled tours and a T20 World Cup in October.
Zimbabwe Women’s Squad:
Mary-Anne Musonda (captain), Ashley Ndiraya, Precious Marange, Pelajia Mujaji, Chiedza Dhururu, Modester Mupachikwa, Kellies Ndlovu, Tasmeen Granger, Esther Mbofana, Francesca Chipare, Loryn Phiri, Nomvelo Sibanda, Josephine Nkomo, Audrey Mazvishaya, Christabel ChatonzwaPakistan women’s Squad: Nahida Khan, Javeria Khan(c), Omaima Sohail, Kainat Imtiaz, Nida Dar, Aliya Riaz, Sidra Nawaz(w), Fatima Sana, Diana Baig, Nashra Sandhu, Anam Amin, Muneeba Ali, Aiman Anwer, Ayesha Zafar, Sadia Iqbal, Syeda Aroob Shah, Ayesha Naseem