by KEVIN MAPASURE

THE Zimbabwe national cricket team has resumed training ahead of their scheduled tour of Pakistan next month.Zimbabwe is set to visit Pakistan for the first time since 2015 and this time they will play three one-day international series and as many T-20 internationals.

However, that series hinges on the Zimbabwe government granting the team permission to travel to the Asian country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) ceased all cricket activity in August following an upsurge in coronavirus infections in the country.

A home series against Afghanistan was cancelled after the government stopped all matches in the country.

ZC has since applied for permission to travel to Pakistan and await a response from the authorities, but in the meantime the team has resumed small groups’ training with some players doing fitness drills in Harare while other groups are in Bulawayo and Mutare.

At Harare Sports Club, a group of ten players including captain Chamu Chibhabha (pictured), ex-skipper Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine and Peter Moore went through a morning session presided over by assistant coaches Stuart Matsikenyere, Douglas Hondo and fitness coach Walter Karimanzira.

Chibhabha said he was hoping that they would be granted permission to travel as the players were in great need of some matches having been idle for a while.

He was, however, concerned that they might have to travel to Pakistan without playing much-needed practice matches if the government gives them the greenlight to tour.

“It’s been good so far, we started off with a bit of conditioning yesterday (Monday) and we are getting into skills next week. We are getting into it slowly. Otherwise the guys are excited about the tour, hopefully we are going to be given the greenlight to go to Pakistan because any opportunity for us to play some cricket is key for us,” he said.
“It’s important for us to prepare well and make sure we go out there in high spirits.”

“Obviously for us it’s a bit of a hustle because we are only allowed to practise, we are not allowed to play game scenarios or matches, but we only have about six weeks of preparation, so that is a bit frustrating for us, but we have to do with what we have. Hopefully the authorities will give us permission to play practice matches; we need about five or six practice matches because we have been away from cricket for a long time now.”

The players will go into a bio bubble two weeks before they travel to Pakistan and upon arrival in the Asian country, they will also quarantine for a further fortnight.

“We are doing zonal practice we have guys in Bulawayo, Kwekwe and here at Harare Sports Club and another group is at Takashinga. We will only get together when we get into the bio-bubble for two weeks. We will quarantine in a hotel somewhere two weeks before we travel.”

He added that the players were looking forward to a return to Pakistan following their famous trip in 2015 where they became the first international side to play in that country following a gun attack on the Sri Lanka national team.

“We have fond memories of our last visit there. We had presidential security. We didn’t have any issues there. We were just playing cricket, the hospitality was good, we enjoyed the experience and there were no worries. So hopefully we will be able to tour Pakistan
again.”

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