Zimbabwe ranked 11th in ODIs by the ICC and Afghanistan who are ranked one place higher in tenth, will go head to head in the first game of their five ODI series at the Harare Sports Club on Thursday.
Since the two countries first played each other in an ODI, which was as recently as July 2014, they have met a total of 14 times, with Zimbabwe winning six times, and Afghanistan eight times. The most recent series played in Zimbabwe, in October 2015, ended in a 3-2 success for the touring Afghans.
The most recent series was played out in Sharjah in January last year, with Zimbabwe triumphing by 2-1, after two comprehensive wins in the opening two fixtures, by 117 and 65 runs respectively, before the Afghans claimed a consolation 2-wicket success in the final contest.
The hosts have included the all-rounder Solomon Mire, who has played in 10 ODI’s for his country, the last of which was in 2015. Since the end of the 2015 World Cup, he has been playing grade cricket in Australia.
Despite a poor tri-series, when he managed to score just nine runs in three innings, and didn’t bowl a single over, the all-rounder Elton Chigumbura has been retained in the squad.
With fast bowler Tendai Chatara restored to the squad, after regaining fitness following a leg injury, Chigumbura’s bowling may not be needed. Chatara who last played in an international for Zimbabwe in June 2016, will likely open the bowling with Chris Mpofu.
Despite reaching the final of the tri-series in November, which also included Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Zimbabwe have committed seven players from the squad that contested that tournament.
Two uncapped players have been named, Ryan Buri a left-hander batsman who has scored a century and two half-centuries against Afghanistan “A” and Nathan Waller an all-rounder and cousin of Malcolm.