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New Zealand jets in

by Eddie Chikamhi
21 Jul 2016 at 06:48hrs | Views
TOP cricketing side New Zealand flew into the country yesterday afternoon for a series of Test matches against rebuilding Zimbabwe with their opener Tom Latham expressing excitement to return to Zimbabwe.

Latham also predicted fireworks when the teams clash in Test matches in Bulawayo despite the gulf in rankings between the two sides.

New Zealand are ranked the fifth best Test nation at the moment while Zimbabwe are a lowly 10th.

They are also the best T20 team on current rakings and the Number Two side in the One Day Internationals.

The Black Caps arrived in Harare just after midday yesterday for their three-week visit in which they will play two Test matches before proceeding to South Africa for another two-match Test series against the Proteas later next month.

Latham, who was part of the squad that toured Zimbabwe last year for three One Day Internationals and two Twenty20 matches, yesterday said they are happy to be back in the country for the longer version of the game.

The Black Caps ignored the unwarranted pessimist calls to boycott the tour because of demonstrations which affected some parts the country last week.

The squad had been camped in South Africa where they had a training camp at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre for the last eight days to acclimatise with the conditions in Southern Africa.

Latham said the time they spent in Pretoria was priceless.

But before they leave for Bulawayo where both Test matches will take place at Queens Sports Club, the visitors will have a preparatory three-day match against Zimbabwe A starting tomorrow at Harare Sports Club.

The 24-year-old opener yesterday said he is looking forward to some exhilarating cricket between the two sides.

"It's nice to be finally here obviously with all that stuff said about (Zimbabwe), and, so New Zealand Cricket are calling the shots. It's nice to be here. We are looking forward to the warm up game and then the Tests in Bulawayo," said Latham.

"We were here last year and so I am sure we are much of the same. We want to win every game that we play. Now we have to get the warm up game down and then expect fireworks in the two Tests."

New Zealand brought a 16-member strong squad captained by Kane Williamson. They will be looking to use the Zimbabwe series to prepare for the tougher tour of South Africa.

The selectors included one uncapped player Jeet Raval in their squad for both series. Ish Sodhi, who is no stranger to Zimbabwean conditions, having been part of the touring squad last year, also earned a recall. Sodhi is one of three spinners alongside Mark Craig and Mitchell Santner.

Former captain Ross Taylor, who hit an unbeaten century for England side Sussex at the weekend, has also returned to the Black Caps after recovering from an injury which ruled him out of their last home Test series against Australia which they lost 2-0 in February.

Paceman Matt Henry who is coming from a good spell in English county cricket is also among the players to watch in the series after a successful half-season with Worcestershire.

Henry raked up 27 first-class wickets in Worcestershire's promotion bid from division two and will be looking to continue with the form in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

New Zealand crashed Zimbabwe by an innings and 301 runs when the teams last played in January 2012 in Napier, thanks to centuries from Taylor and BJ Watling.

The previous meeting a few months earlier in November 2011 was a better contest for the Zimbabweans at home. That was the last visit to Zimbabwe by the Black Caps when they won the lone Test by 34 runs at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo.

Martin Guptill, Trent Boult, BJ Watling, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Williamson and Taylor are the survivors from both tours.

Zimbabwe are looking to make the most of the Test series as they are looking to improve their rating on the International Cricket Council rankings. New Zealand are ranked the fifth best Test nation while Zimbabwe are 10th.

The Chevrons, who have been preparing under their new coach Makhaya Ntini, are hoping to be involved in more Test matches later this year against Sri Lanka.

ZC public relations and media manager Darlington Majonga said they expect to name their squad today.

New Zealand squad

Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.

Source - chronicle