Zim, Afghan series underway

HARARE - The Zimbabwe men’s cricket team continues with its preparations for next month’s 2019 ICC World Cup Qualifiers and this morning they date Afghanistan in a Twenty20 match in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

The second match of the series will take place at the same venue tomorrow before the two sides lock horns in a five-match ODI series that starts on Friday and ends on February 19.

Zimbabwe will then hope to wind up their preparations at home before they host the 10-team World Cup Qualifiers tournament starting with a warm-up encounter against Ireland at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on February 27 and against Papua New Guinea on March 1.

The Qualifiers are scheduled to begin on March 4 with Zimbabwe’s opponent on the day yet to be announced.

Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer is confident the just- ended ODI tri-series in Bangladesh also involving Sri Lanka gave his side valuable lessons which will come in handy in this series against Afghanistan and the Qualifiers at large.

“I thought in the tri-series in Bangladesh there were a lot of positives and you know it’s always good to get games against good opposition under challenging conditions, we showed glimpses of our team’s potential,” Cremer told the Daily News from UAE yesterday.

“As far as preparations are concerned it’s great for this series with our eye firmly fixed on the qualifiers. We learnt a lot in Bangladesh then we had three, four days in Dubai where we were training at the ICC Academy.

“The facilities were excellent as always so it’s really good for us. Now we are in Sharjah we have had a couple of days of training and getting used to the facilities and the conditions here.

“Our first T20 starts tomorrow (today) so will have one more session under lights gearing towards that T20 match which should be good.

“I know all the boys are looking forward to it and hopefully have a good series here and hopefully carry some good momentum into the qualifiers.”

While Cremer and crew are taking on Afghanistan, back home Mid West Rhinos all-rounder Prince Masvaure is leading the riot over Kenya with his Zim A side where a couple of players have raised their hands with both bat and ball including him as captain.

Zimbabwe A won the series 4-0 following yesterday’s eight-wicket victory at Harare Sports Club.

Mashonaland Eagles’ master-blaster Cephas Zhuwao has been in scintillating form with the bat scoring a century and two scores in the 40s region in all the three first wins against Kenya setting the much- needed platform for all the massacres.

“Yes we are pleased to see some good performances in the A side — makes selection very tough, but it’s good to have competition among the players,” Cremer added.

“There’ll be no time to have another series after this one as we arrive back in Zimbabwe on the 20th of February and we leave for Bulawayo on the 25th and first warm-up game before the qualifiers is on the 27th.”

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