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Masakadza finds favour ahead of Zimbabwe's triple tour

Hamilton Masakadza has been surplus to Zimbabwe's requirements lately AFP

Hamilton Masakadza, who has played only one of Zimbabwe's five ODIs this year, has been selected to go to the Netherlands and Scotland in June and Sri Lanka later. Opener Chamu Chibhabha, who last played 50-over cricket for his country in November 2016, and who has only made two fifties in 23 innings, found a way back into the squad as well.

Zimbabwe play two games against Scotland on June 15 and 17 and three more against Netherlands on June 20, 22 and 24 before moving on to Sri Lanka for five ODIs and a Test match, the exact schedule for which is not yet fixed. Legspinner Graeme Cremer will lead the team. The former captain Elton Chigumbura was not part of the squad.

Masakadza's only ODI in 2017 came against Afghanistan and he fell for 5 off 17 balls. However, the 33-year old made a hundred for Zimbabwe A against Canada in Harare a week ago to possibly persuade the selectors. Similarly, Sikandar Raza played only one game of the Afghanistan series - his only ODI in 2017 - but he too was backed to perform. Chigumbura, though picked for that series, did not play in any of the matches and his previous appearance in international 50-over cricket dated back to October 2016.

While the elder Masakadza was picked, his 23-year old brother and left-arm spinner Wellington was left out of the squad that lost at home to Afghanistan 3-2. Accompanying him on the bench were seamer Carl Mumba and allrounder Nathan Waller.

These 10 matches present a significant opportunity for the team for they can help build momentum going into the qualifying tournament in April 2018 for the next World Cup. Only the top-eight teams on the ICC rankings gain automatic qualification into the showpiece event. Zimbabwe, down at No. 11, will have to finish among the top two to have a chance at playing the 2019 World Cup.

Zimbabwe squad: Ryan Burl, Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer (capt), Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Christopher Mpofu, Tarisai Musakanda, Richard Ngarava, Donald Tiripano, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams