Zimbabwe in Bangladesh 2006-07 November 21, 2006

Nkala back in the big time

Warren Carne in Bulawayo
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Mlukeli Nkala will mark his return to international cricket when he travels with the Zimbabwean cricket team for the one-day series in Bangladesh, the team he last played against. The Zimbabwean side is set to leave on Wednesday (November 22) despite the violent unrest that has hit Bangladesh in the past few days.

Zimbabwe will also play a Twenty20 match on November 28 at Khulna, followed by the first ODI two days later at the same venue. After a long lay off due to injury, Nkala returns to a relatively young and inexperienced team, hoping to lay a foundation for a return to Test cricket next year when Zimbabwe are set to resume their 'Test' Status.

He last played an ODI against Bangladesh on January 31, 2005 at Dhaka, having made his debut against India seven years earlier. He picked up 22 wickets in 47 ODIs and has the distinction of taking the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar with his second ball in international cricket, A medium-pace swing bowler who can bat - he hit a century against England Under-9s in 1998 batting at No. 6 and was the leading wicket taker in the 1998 U-19 World Cup in South Africa, ending the tournament with 15 wickets. He subsequently spent a few weeks at the Australian Cricket Academy, working with Dennis Lillee.

The 15-man squad has been dogged by injuries, with opening bowler Ed Rainsford and former captain Terrence Duffin, who has undergone surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb and will not be able to resume training until next month, ruled out.

In addition to that Tawanda Mupariwa has been carrying a knee injury since the tour of the Caribbean in May while Tafadzwa Mufambisi was hit by a ball on his left forearm during a practice match at the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy and is in plaster.

The emphasis will be on slow bowling. In addition to Prosper Utseya, who retains the captaincy, three other slow bowlers - UK-based Sean Williams, Ryan Higgins and Keith Dabengwa - have been picked to take advantage of the normally spinner-friendly subcontinent conditions. Tino Mawoyo is the only uncapped player in the squad. The former Under-19 captain has been in good form in domestic cricket for Harare Sports Club. Other players who are making a return to international cricket include the lanky medium pacer Christopher Mpofu, and allrounder Blessing Mahwire who both missed out on the Champions Trophy in India.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh have named a 13-man squad on Sunday for the first three ODIs and their squad included Tushar Imran, who had been overlooked for the Champions Trophy.

Zimbabwe squad Prosper Utseya (capt), Gary Brent, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Keith Dabengwa, Ryan Higgins, Anthony Ireland, Blessing Mahwire, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Christopher Mpofu, Mluleki Nkala, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams.