Sibanda gets fresh start

HARARE - Zimbabwe top order batsman Vusi Sibanda is poised to return to his opening spot in the on-off Test against South Africa that starts this Saturday at Harare Sports club.

Sibanda was dropped by the selectors after scoring just four runs in the opening match of the drawn One Day International series against Afghanistan in Bulawayo last month.

The 30-year-old batsman, who is still searching for his maiden Test century from 12 matches, has two half tons with a high score of 93 and an average of 21.91.

In the limited overs format, the Highfield-born batsman has two ODI centuries and 20 half centuries.

New Zimbabwe cricket team head coach, Steve Mangongo said he would give Sibanda a new lease of life.

“He’s (Sibanda) part of the 25-men squad. I have got an open mind and I don’t care about what happened in the past,” Mangongo told the Daily News.

“To me he’s starting on a new page pretty much like everybody in the team and what’s important is for those chosen to play on the day to justify their selection by scoring runs, excellent fielding or getting wickets.

“I would be more interested in looking at these aspects of the game and not getting into past misdemeanours.”

Mangongo, a cricket development stalwart who is not afraid of handing promising youngsters game time has named several new faces in his 25-man training squad for the South Africa series.

The list includes all-rounder Luke Jongwe, who is aged 19, seamers Cuthbert Musoko (20), Steve Chimhamhiwa (23) and Neville Madziva (23) while former Test batsman Mark Vermeulen (35) was also recalled into the national fold.

“I am a firm believer in competition and no one has a monopoly in selection,” said Mangongo.

“These fringe players are going to put pressure on everyone in the team and guys are looking forward to challenging the status quo.”

After the one-off Test match, action will continue in Bulawayo for the three-match ODI series after which both teams return to the capital for an ODI triangular series also involving Australia.

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