Zimbabwe have been dealt a major blow ahead of their two-Test series against New Zealand with fast bowler Tendai Chatara being ruled out of both games with an ankle injury. Chatara is the second seamer to miss out after Tinashe Panyangara failed to recover from a back problem in time for the Tests. Michael Chinouya has been called up as a replacement.
Chatara sustained the injury, a recurrence of a prior problem, during the three-day warm-up game between Zimbabwe A and the New Zealanders. He bowled 16 overs on the first day, and took one wicket for 53, but finished the day complaining of pain in the left-ankle. Chatara did not participate any further in the match and received treatment and strapping on the ankle, but with no improvement in his condition, a replacement was selected.
Instead of look to the members of the A side, who included the more experienced Shingi Masakadza, Zimbabwe opted for uncapped seamer Chinouya. With 166 first-class wickets to his name from 65 matches, Chinouya has played more matches than other members of the A attack - like Tatenda Mupunga (19 matches), Victor Nyauchi (12) and Gerald Aliseni (5) - but has not played any recognised cricket since February.
More worryingly, Chatara's injury has robbed Zimbabwe of all experience in their seam attack. Njabulo Ncube and Donald Tiripano have only played a Test each and Taurai Muzarabani, who replaced Panyangara, is uncapped in the longest format.
Zimbabwe could also have a problem at the the other end of their line-up. Opening batsman Tino Mawoyo was also injured in the A game after being hit on the hand by Tim Southee. Mawoyo had to retire hurt after facing four balls in the first innings and did not bat in the second. He went for an x-ray which showed no fracture, so he will travel to Bulawayo but will continue to be monitored by the national physiotherapist ahead of the first Test, which starts on July 28.
Should Mawoyo not be available, Zimbabwe have Brian Chari and Prince Masvaure to open in their squad but may recall Vusi Sibanda, who was dropped for this series. The other potential opener, Nkosana Mpofu, who played the tour game, also hurt his knee against the New Zealanders, but he was able to bat again.