Coventry in line for Zimbabwe recall
Charles Coventry, Vusi Sibanda, Brian Vitori and Chris Mpofu are all expected to be recalled to the Zimbabwe squad for the upcoming series in Pakistan but there may be no room for Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer or Solomon Mire.
The tour, which has been confirmed despite FICA's independent security assessment calling the risk of any team visiting Pakistan "unacceptably high," will be Zimbabwe's first international outing since the 2015 World Cup, coach Dav Whatmore's first bilateral series in charge of the team, and their first without Brendan Taylor who quit international cricket for a county career in March.
Taylor's absence has paved the way for the return of both Sibanda, who was dropped for the World Cup squad, and Coventry, who last played for Zimbabwe four years ago. Sibanda has been active in the domestic competition and scored two centuries and two half-centuries in his last six first-class games, while Coventry has come in from the wilderness. He turned down a call-up ahead of the 2014 World T20 because of Zimbabwe Cricket's precarious financial situation and has since played club cricket in Dubai and South Africa.
Zimbabwe have also had to bulk up their bowling reserves following Tendai Chatara's leg injury, which will sideline him for six months. Chatara, who was Zimbabwe's best bowler at the World Cup, broke his leg in two places playing football and will be replaced by Mpofu, who last played international cricket in 2013, and fit-again left-arm seamer Vitori, who was also not part of the World Cup squad.
With Zimbabwe going back to many of the players they have relied on in the past, there could only be room for one new cap. Allrounder Roy Kaia, who bowls offspin, is in the mix. Zimbabwe's other slower bowling resources will include Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza, while Prosper Utseya, who now bowls medium-pace after he was banned from bowling offspin, will also travel with the squad. Legspinner Cremer, who returned to training with the national squad, has not played any domestic cricket since quitting the sport for golf two years ago, and has not been deemed match-fit.
Elton Chigumbura will continue to lead the limited-overs teams while Zimbabwe's administrators mull a replacement for Taylor in the Test side, which will retain a core of players that includes Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine and Tinashe Panyangara. Richmond Mutumbami is expected to take over as wicketkeeper from Taylor.
Squad (probable): Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Charles Coventry, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Roy Kaia, Hamilton Masakadza, Chris Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Richmond Mutumbami, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Sean Williams
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent