Series preview: Zimbabwe v New Zealand
When India sent a second string side to Zimbabwe recently, there had been hope in Harare that the hosts would win a game in the ODI series, but that did not materialise, and prospects look even bleaker against New Zealand.
The Black Caps may be missing the likes of Brendon McCullum and Trent Boult, but when you have people like Kane Williamson and Mitchell McClenagahn to call on instead, a 'second string' doesn't feel far removed from the first.
Zimbabwe lost that ODI series to India's weakened side three-nil, and though they won the final match of the tour, the second T20, the Kiwis will still be very confident of going into the South African leg of their Africa tour with a trophy in the bag.
Of the 12 ODIs Zimbabwe have played this year, they've won just one, against the UAE at the World Cup. In contrast, the Black Caps reached the final, with many of the players on this tour. They did, however, lose their ODIs against England two months ago.
Kane Williamson is leading the visitors for this entire tour, with B-Mac rested, and the young all-rounder will be very ably assisted in the batting order by Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham and Luke Ronchi, all capable of huge scores.
Bowling-wise, they lost Mitchell Santner to a finger injury ahead of the tour, and he was replaced by uncapped George Worker, a left-arm spinner. Ben Wheeler is also included, as coach Mike Hesson wants to give young players a go.
The hosts, meanwhile, have named the strongest squad possible, with Elton Chigumbura back as skipper, and spinner John Nyumbu recalled. Pacemen Donald Tiripano and Brian Vitori were dropped after the India ODI failures.
Craig Ervine has also been recalled to the batting order, adding experience to the likes of veterans Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams and Vusi Sibanda. Luke Jongwe has also been added, for the first time this year.
For the hosts, skipper Elton Chigumbura will be vital. He's recently made a few centuries, but none have resulted in victories, and with Brendan Taylor no longer playing for Zim, he will need to lead from the front in a way that ensures victory.
The Black Caps have a number of players to look to, but this cold be a chance for Jimmy Neesham to shine. Back from injury, the all-rounder will want to regain his place in the first string with some commanding efforts with bat and ball.
Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2012 Third ODI: New Zealand won by 202 runs in Napier
2012 Second ODI: New Zealand won by 141 runs in Whangarei
2012 First ODI: New Zealand won by 90 runs in Dunedin
2011 Third ODI: Zimbabwe won by one wicket in Bulowayo
2011 Second ODI: New Zealand won by four wickets in Harare
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Regis Chakabva (wk), Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya, Tinashe Panyangara, Christopher Mpofu, John Nyumbu, Vusi Sibanda, Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler, George Worker, Ish Sodhi
First ODI: 2 August in Harare
Second ODI: 4 August in Harare
Third ODI: 7 August in Harare
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