ZIMBABWE national cricket team captain Brendan Taylor says the series against Afghanistan will provide an opportunity for the home team’s batsman to get big scores and gain momentum ahead of the South African series.
The series kicks off today at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo where Zimbabwe will engage the Asian side in the first of the four one day international (ODI) matches lined up as part of Afghanistan’s 28-day tour.
“Queens has always been a good place to bat for us. It offers our players a chance to cash in and an opportunity to get big scores. We are seeking to maximise on this series to gain momentum ahead of the South African series,” Taylor said.
The series provides the Zimbabwean team with the much needed game time ahead of the triangular series in August where they will play South Africa and Australia.
“We encourage our players to play with a lot of freedom but they should be cautious about the shots they play as well. We want them to be able to play their natural game and this time around I believe that the players know the fine lines and are more experienced heading into this series,” Taylor said.
“The preparations have been intense for the past six weeks for the guys and it will be nice for the players to get some game time ahead of the series against South Africa. We have respect for our opponents having watched them play in the two warm-up matches,”
“We also played them in a T20 match in Bangladesh, so we have an indication of how the side plays as they are a fast developing side.
“But we are confident with our ability and with the home ground advantage,” Taylor said.
As part of their preparation for the series, the Afghanistan side played Zimbabwe A in two warm-up matches. They managed to win the first one by 16 runs before faltering in the second match where the hosts cruised to a seven- wicket victory.
Afghanistan coach Mohammad Khan said he was satisfied with his side’s preparations.
“The preparations for the series have been good. We have had a few days out in the nets and two quality warm-up matches against the Zim A side which gave us a chance to try all our players ahead of the series. This also allowed us to get used to the weather as well as the ground here. The boys are fit and ready for the game,” Khan said.
The Afghanistan coach enlisted the services of batsmen Asghar Stanikzai and Gulbadin Naib, who last played an ODI in March 2013 to beef up his squad as they prepare for next year’s Twenty20 World Cup.
Khan also said that the wicket at Queens Sports Club looked like a good wicket.
“The ground here at Queens is a good ground just like any other international ground that we have played on. It looks like a good batting track and the statistics about the history of the ground support that. So we are expecting a good game of cricket,” Khan said.
Other ODI matches are on July 20, 22 and 24.
Sikandar Raza Butt, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingirai Masakadza, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Natsai M’shangwe, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams, Timycen Maruma, Tafadzwa Kamungozi and Donald Tiripano.