Seamer Chris Mpofu is in line for an international recall as Zimbabwe look to bolster their ranks ahead of the second Test against New Zealand, which starts from August 6. With more than half the squad afflicted by the illness that kept Sean Williams off the field for the entire New Zealand innings, changes to the current 15-man group are expected and ESPNcricinfo has learned that Mpofu is being seriously considered.
The seamer has not played a Test in five years, since New Zealand last toured Zimbabwe in 2011. He was part of the XI that took the one-off game to the wire and finished with five wickets in the match. Mpofu has since been plagued by a lower back injury but has played international cricket in shorter formats, with his last ODI and T20 both coming in 2015. Mpofu also played throughout last season, including three matches in the Logan Cup where he claimed 11 wickets at 23.81, and it is understood his wicket-taking ability is what Zimbabwe are after.
"We don't have a powerhouse of seamers which you can pick and choose from," Makhaya Ntini, Zimbabwe's interim head coach, said. "For this match, we thought if we have more power in the batting line-up, we'll have time to be able to take wickets."
However, on a slow, low Bulawayo surface, Zimbabwe's attack of two seamers, one specialist spinner and four part-timers was only able to take six New Zealand wickets and, of those, the frontline seamers only took two. A lack of experience in the pack is also a problem - the four quicks had only two Test caps between them before this match.
Their inexperience showed when both Donald Tiripano and Michael Chinouya wasted the new ball and did not make New Zealand's openers play enough. They also stayed away from the short ball, which had worked well for Neil Wagner in Zimbabwe's innings. The pair improved with the second new ball, tightened their lines and asked some questions and Ntini has been working with them on applying pressure for longer periods.
"They need to search more, they need to hit one side of the wicket, they need to be able to bowl to fields and they must not be greedy," Ntini said. "But they are learning. From a fast bowler's point of view, what we had to mention to them is to pay attention to which ball gets hit for four and then try to correct that. You want to cut off the boundaries. If the boundary ball becomes a single, you are able to understand where you need to improve so when you get hit, you have to think - which ball was that. Then you will understand what not to do."
Apart from Tiripano and Chinouya, Ntini has also been teaching this to the other members of his squad which include Njabulo Ncube, who also played in the 2011 Test, and Taurai Muzarabani, neither of whom were picked for the first Test. Zimbabwe also have the option of calling up Shingi Masakadaza, who topped the Logan Cup wicket-taker's list and performed well against South Africa A.
At the other end, changes are also expected in the batting line-up, especially the top order, although Ntini was careful not to be too harsh on his young top two. Chamu Chibhabha was on debut and Brian Chari had just two caps to his name before this Test. Chari then had to keep wicket as well. "We can't judge a person by one single game," Ntini said. "For example, with Chari, he kept for two days and he is not a wicketkeeper and then he got out. But yes, Tino (Mawoyo) has also showed signs of being one of the top-order players. Whatever changes we do, they have to be needed, we won't just do them."
Mawoyo, who suffered bruising around his right thumb after being hit by Tim Southee in the three-day warm-up match, is hopeful to be fit for the second Test. Although scans did not reveal a fracture, Mawoyo was unable to hold a bat after suffering the blow and did not hit any balls during this Test. He will resume training on Tuesday.