Ireland, Afghanistan await struggling Zim

HARARE - ICC Associate nations Ireland and Afghanistan are relishing the opportunity to add more misery on a struggling Zimbabwe cricket side when they tour these lands later this month.

The two nations arrive in Zimbabwe hard on the heels of the Pakistan series which ends on Monday.

Pakistan, who are on a reciprocal tour visit to Zimbabwe, have already done enough damage and are just a game away from winning the One Day International series.

The visitors romped to a 2-0 Twenty20 series win and currently lead the three-match ODI series 1-0 with a win in today’s match guaranteeing them another series victory.

The two Associates currently sandwich Zimbabwe in the ICC ODI rankings with Ireland in 10th place while Afghanistan on 12th.

In the T20s, Afghanistan are ranked 10th, Zimbabwe 15th and Ireland 16th.

Zimbabwe are no longer guaranteed automatic entry to the 2019 World Cup to be hosted by England and Wales.

They need to be ranked eighth or better by December 2017 in order to avoid going through the qualifiers with Associates in Bangladesh set for February 2018.

First up after Pakistan would be Ireland, who are scheduled to arrive in the country tomorrow for a series comprising of three ODIs.

They have made known their intentions of causing a big upset by roping in former Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton as their batting consultant to help explore the Harare Sports Club conditions just like what Grant Flower is doing for Pakistan currently.

In their previous clash, Ireland beat Zimbabwe at the World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in February by five runs in a Pool B group stage match.

Afghanistan will be in the country later on October 13 for five ODIs and two T20s which will be played at Bulawayo’s Queens Sports club beginning on October 16.

ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said the fact the last ODI home series against Afghanistan ended in a 2-2 stalemate was a clear indication that the Associate sides were no longer pushovers.

“As we push through our commitment to have our national side play as many international games as possible, we are pleased to have Afghanistan touring, just a few days after we will have played host to Ireland in the latest of a busy season that has also seen India, New Zealand and Pakistan in Zimbabwe,” Mukuhlani said in a statement.

“The last time Afghanistan were here, they were no pushovers and we shared the spoils in the hard-fought series. This time around, we hope for victory so that we repay the thousands of cricket lovers who always turn up at Queens in support of Zimbabwe.”

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