Panyangara injury poses selection dilemma for Zimbabwe

Tinashe Panyangara hasn't played international cricket since the World T20 in March-April AFP

Tinashe Panyangara, Zimbabwe's pace spearhead, has been ruled out of the two-Test series against New Zealand after failing to recover from a back injury. Panyangara, who picked up the injury during a training camp ahead of Zimbabwe's limited-overs series against India in June, is expected to resume bowling in August.

That means Zimbabwe will likely look to the recent A series against South Africa at home for a replacement. Shingi Masakadza and Brian Vitori, who played one game each during the series, are the most high-profile bowlers competing for the slot.

Masakadza, who took three wickets in the first innings of the first four-day fixture in Harare, also offers a batting option down the order while Vitori's left-arm action will provide variation, although he is short of match practice.

Vitori, who was out of action for six months after being suspended for an illegal action in February, made a comeback in the second match in Bulawayo, but was both expensive and ineffective. He conceded 106 in 21 wicketless overs, and sent down eight no-balls.

A wild card would be Victor Nyauchi who opened the bowling with Masakadza in the Harare game and returned figures of 1 for 94 in the first innings and 2 for 26 in the second.

The pace department is not Zimbabwe's only concern, however. With Graeme Cremer likely to captain the Test side as well, after he was given the job for the ODIs and T20Is against India in June, they could find themselves limited to a legspinner, should they go into the Test with just one specialist slow bowler.

John Nyumbu could be an alternative if they choose to field a second spinner. With conditions at Queens Sports Club expected to be slow and low, Zimbabwe will also have to call on the all-round ability of the likes of Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams to perform in both disciplines.

Although Hamilton Masakadza was relieved of the captaincy duties after the World T20, he is expected to take up his position at No.3, leaving it up to Vusi Sibanda and Tino Mawoyo, who have Test experience, to battle it out with in-form Brian Chari and Prince Masvaure at the top of the order.

Chari scored 98 in the first match against South Africa A while Masvaure made 146 in the second, which should give Zimbabwe some much-needed batting depth in Brendan Taylor's absence.

This will be Zimbabwe's first Test series since November 2014, when they toured Bangladesh. Zimbabwe have not played Tests at home since a one-off fixture against South Africa in August that year.

It will also be Makhaya Ntini's first Test series in charge, after he took over the head coaching duties ahead of the India series. Ntini has not been confirmed as the permanent coach of the team but remains in charge until a decision is made. He will be joined by fellow South African Lance Klusener, who is the batting consultant.