Zimbabwe will be missing the services of its key players in the T20I triangular series against Pakistan and Australia but Lalchand Rajput, their interim head coach is confident that they will do well. Rajput in his first assignment for the country will see Zimbabwe take the field without its match winners Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Graeme Cremer, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine, as they continue to be on strike after being unpaid for several months by the home board, but is unperturbed by it and has nothing but optimism towards the gruelling challenge.
Speaking at the announcement of the final 17-member squad on Monday 25 June, Rajput said, “As a coach, you like challenges and I think it’s a challenge for me, which I have done with Afghanistan and India when I was appointed the T20 coach and we won the T20 World Cup in 2017, It was a challenge with all the youngsters there. With Afghanistan, I was there for one-and-a-half years and we attained Test status. There are areas where we need to tighten up, but we’re working on it. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Walter Chawaguta, convener of selectors for Zimbabwe Cricket(ZC), further talked about the squad, the preparation before the series and also shed light on the players' unavailability, by stating, "Our hope is that they avail themselves, and if they do avail themselves then the selectors will have to sit down and see where they fit in in the greater scheme of things. Our hope is that things resolve themselves and those players avail themselves,"
"We based our selection on the players that are available. By saying 'available', today we finished our T20 practice match and all these players that are being looked at here, with the exception of Elton (Chigumbura) who is not feeling well, were available and completed the match. My assumption is that everyone is available and I have no reason to believe otherwise,"
"I think we need to set the record straight. I've personally spoken to every one of those players and they didn't make themselves available. We started off with four squads originally (for a warm-up competition) because our intention was to have a local quadrangular. When Kenya came into the picture we chose two squads of 30 for a triangular. Those players were contacted but made themselves unavailable. They didn't play in the tri-series,"
All the games of the 7-match Tri-series will be played the Harare Sports Club. The first match starts on July 1 with the hosts taking on Pakistan and the tournament culminates with the final a week later on July 8.
Cephas Zhuwao, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Wellington Masakadza, Brian Chari, Blessing Muzarabani, Solomon Mire, Tarisai Musakanda, Elton Chigumbura, Malcolm Waller, Peter Moor, Tendai Chisoro, Brandon Mavuta, Chris Mpofu, Ryan Burl, Ryan Murray, Kyle Jarvis.
(Inputs from CricketNext)