Zim to play Afghanistan in Dubai


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ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwe national cricket team will play five one-day internationals (ODIs) and two Twenty20 (T20) internationals against Afghanistan in a return series to be held in Dubai later this month. Afghanistan toured Zimbabwe in October, winning the ODI and T20I series, 2-3 and 0-2 respectively, to become the first Associate nation to achieve that feat against a Test-playing country.

However, after the humiliating defeats at Queens Sports Club, Zimbabwe will see the return series against Afghanistan as a golden opportunity to redeem themselves and restore some lost pride.

Although both Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) are yet to make an official announcement, the tour is scheduled to begin on December 22 and will precede Zimbabwe’s tour of Bangladesh for two Tests in January.

Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore, who is currently on a break in his native Australia, is expected to return to the country on December 12 to start preparations for the limited-overs tour with camp expected to start on December 15.

The Dubai tour for the series against Afghanistan comes on the back of Zimbabwe’s trip to Bangladesh, where they played and lost to the hosts 3-0 in the ODI series, while the two-match T-20 series was drawn.

This year, Zimbabwe had one of their busiest international seasons in recent years, hosting India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Ireland and Afghanistan.

The team also had two tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh, having also participated at the International Cricket Council World Cup, which was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand between February and March.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket team is set to have more game time ahead of their participation at next year’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup, following reports of a planned series against Afghanistan.

Bangladesh will host this year’s edition of the Under-19 World Cup, which takes place from January 20 to February 14.

However, before their participation at the global youth tournament, Zimbabwe, who recently played Bangladesh away in a four-match ODI series, are likely to have more preparatory matches.

According to an Indian publication Hindustan Times, Stephen Mangongo’s charges are set to play the Afghanistan Under-19 side in three ODIs and two T-20 matches at the newly-built Greater Noida cricket stadium, 30 kilometres from the Indian capital, New Delhi.

ACB officials and the Greater Noida authority met at the weekend to discuss technical and legal issues before signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU).

“Discussions on signing an agreement with Afghanistan are in a positive direction. We hope that the two countries will practice and play at the Greater Noida cricket stadium after signing the MoU next week,” Deepak Agarwal, chief executive officer of the Greater Noida authority, told the Hindustan Times.

“Afghanistan and Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket matches will offer a wonderful opportunity to the sports lovers here. We expect to host more international matches in the future.”

The Zimbabwe Under-19, who succumbed to a 4-0 whitewash defeat in Bangladesh, will be hoping for a better display against Afghanistan to boost their confidence ahead of the World Cup.

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