Will Vusi Sibanda play?

HARARE - Zimbabwe will feel relatively happy with the outcome of their warm up against a Bangladesh Board XI which ended in a draw yesterday.

There were a few good performances by some of the players, but the big question mark hovers over the head of Vusi Sibanda, whose form in the longer version of the game seems to have totally deserted him for the present.

Although he featured in an opening stand of 68 with Sikandar Raza Butt in the second innings, Sibanda could only muster up scores of eight and 22 respectively.

Although he provided a good foil for Butt, who was able to play his natural aggressive game, scores of eight and 22 on top of a string of low scores leading up to this tour will surely make the think tank contemplate a change at the top of the order.

The problem however is that neither Hamilton Masakadza, nor Brian Chari contributed significantly in the match to warrant a promotion to the top of the order.

However, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the opening spot is unquestionably a very important spot.

So do the selectors show faith in Vusi, who many feel will yet again flatter to deceive by getting a start and then getting out?

Masakadza has made it clear that his preferred position is at number three, and when considering the results, it would be fair to say that he may have a point, and therefore should bat at number three.

There are options; it is safe to say that although Butt was unable to convert his starts into scores of note, he appeared to be self assured and confident at the top of the order.

So will Masakadza be forced to open the batting like he did in the Test against South Africa, or will the think tank do some homework and move him down to number three and open with Butt and Brian Chari?

Chari gave good accounts of himself when he played for the A team in Bangladesh, and he seems to have a good shot selection and solid temperament.

Another disappointment was that Brendan Taylor also failed with the bat in the warm up match which always makes one feel edgy when heading into a Test series.

It's always nice when senior players lead the way, but having said that, many great players around the world have a terrible record when playing warm up games, but deliver the goods when it really counts.

Craig Ervine seemed to find some form in the second innings, but I can only reiterate my observation and opinion I have always had of Craig Ervine.

He does unfortunately have a tendency of digging himself a bit of a trench when he goes into what I call his forget mode.

He arrives at the crease and simply looks to survive, weather Zimbabwe are 30-3, or 300-3.

It seems as if he seems to remember to score in the second innings though, and that is when Craig Richard Ervine becomes a pure joy to watch.

When he plays through the offside, he seemingly does nothing more than gently caresses the ball through cover or extra cover.

He also is more than capable of playing the horizontal bat shots as well.

If it's short and wide, he will play the cut shot.

If it is short and rising, he will pull and even hook when he has established himself at the crease.

The forget mode I alluded to earlier was evident again in this warm up match.

In the first innings, he scratched around and eventually departed after scoring five off 24 balls.

In the second innings, he came in with Zimbabwe having lost a cluster of wickets, and simply transferred the pressure back onto the opposition by hammering an unbeaten 85 off just 98 balls which included 11 fours and four sixes.

Now, let's be very clear on one thing.

The word positive doesn't necessarily mean hitting boundary after boundary.

A good stride forward when playing a defensive shot can also be seen as good and positive intent, making it clear that the bowler will not be dictating terms.

This is an area that most of Zimbabwe's top order batsmen have been very guilty of for a number of years, and it was probably only Tatenda Taibu and Andy Flower who always looked like they were sharp and alert to any situation when batting.

The spinners had a good outing as well, which will please the selectors as they make their final preparations.

Yes, the conditions are spin friendly, and you would expect nothing less from the spinners, but regardless of conditions, you still have to bowl the ball in the right areas, or play the right shot if the conditions are good for batting.

The Zimbabwean spinners stuck to their task, and reaped the rewards by doing so.

Both Tafadzwa Kamongozi and Natsai Mushangwe greatly enhanced their chances of making the final XI with figures of 3-42 in 22.1 overs, and 4-101 respectively.

The Test match starts on Saturday, and the only thing missing from the action will be yours truly.

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