ICL: Indian Cricket League

Skipper Utseya says Zimbabwe good enough to beat any team


Pakistan may be looking forward to a clean sweep in the home series against Zimbabwe but the tourists have warned they have other ideas.

Zimbabwean captain Prosper Utseya appears to be at the helm of a side that looks short on strength, but the young off-spinner oozed loads of confidence after flying into Karachi on Saturday for a five-match one-day series getting underway here at the National Stadium from January 21.

“We have been playing good cricket and can beat anyone,” Utseya, who has played a solitary Test and 69 ODIs, announced at a press conference here at a local hotel just hours after reaching here for a 22-day tour that would kick off with a four-day game against a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Patron’s XI here at the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Stadium from Monday (tomorrow).

Zimbabwe delivered a clear warning to leading Test-playing nations that they are getting better after several tumultuous seasons by stunning the West Indies in a One-day International in Harare on November 30. Zimbabwe also shocked world champions Australia at the inaugural World Twenty20 championship in South Africa last September.

“We are playing well,” said the 22-year-old Utseya, one of the youngest captains in international cricket history. “The guys have been working really, really hard and we are looking forward to the series,” he added.

Utseya commands a touring party that has the services of former captain Tatenda Taibu and experienced left-arm spinner Ray Price.

Zimbabwe’s performances haven’t gone unnoticed in the corridors of powers in the Pakistan cricket set-up.

After initially planning to field a new-look team against the Zimbabweans, the national selectors are not taking the visitors lightly and are now looking to keep faith in mostly tried and tested players for the series which the hosts want to win 5-0.

Coach Robin Brown, a former Zimbabwe international who played seven ODIs, believes his team is ready to give Pakistan a fight. “We are ready for what would be a very hard series,” said Brown, who took over from Kevin Curran as Zimbabwe coach last summer.

Brown said that his may be a young side but most of the team members were pretty experienced as far as matches are concerned. “These guys may be young in age but they are not young in experience. Most of them have played 50-60 one-dayers,” he said.

Brown stressed that Zimbabwe are getting ready for a re-entry to Test cricket. “We have been playing well in three or four-day matches in recent months and are getting ready for Test cricket.”

Lovemore Banda, the team’s media manager, said that the visitors were not intimidated by the current political turmoil in Pakistan. “Our players feel safe here and will be focusing on the series because we have complete faith in the security provided to us by Pakistan,” he said.

The 23-man Zimbabwean squad was escorted to their hotel after landing in the city by a heavy contingent of Police and Rangers.

Zimbabwe squad: Prosper Utseya (captain), Gary Brent, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Keith Dabengwa, Timycen Maruma, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Chris Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams. Robin Brown (coach).

Schedule: January 14-17 Four-day game v Patron’s XI Karachi. Jan 21 1st ODI Karachi (day/night). Jan 24 2nd ODI Hyderabad. Jan 27 3rd ODI Multan (d/n). Jan 30 4th ODI Faisalabad (d/n). February 2 5th ODI Sheikhupura.

Source:Cricket News

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