Tatenda Taibu showers praise on Saudi-born new Zim call-up

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Tatenda Taibu showers praise on Saudi-born new Zim call-up

The Saudi Arabian-born cricketer named in Zimbabwe’s squad for the upcoming tour of Pakistan will “surprise people” with his versatile talents, reckons former national team captain and chief selector Tatenda Taibu.

All-rounder Faraz Akram was included in the African side’s 20-man touring party scheduled to play three ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals beginning on October 30 in Lahore and Multan.

A 27-year-old left-handed batsman and right-arm medium-pace bowler, Akram has long been highly regarded by Taibu.

In 2018, Taibu included Akram in a squad on a learning tour of England under the auspices of the former Zimbabwe captain’s short-lived Rising Stars Academy project.

“He is a very talented bowler and batsman,” remarked Taibu.

“He can swing, I don’t think there is anyone in the country that can swing the ball as much as he does, swinging it back in.”

Taibu, though, said he was concerned that Zimbabwe’s technical staff might not fully appreciate what the player has to offer.

“I don’t think they (Zimbabwe) will know how to use him,” said Taibu.

“Even when he was playing for Mash (Zimbabwean first-class team Mashonaland Eagles), they didn’t know how to use him. He was bowling first-change or second-change. But he is a complete new-ball bowler, he will properly surprise people and, you know, he is someone who shouldn’t be bowling long spells. This is just my opinion, but (he is) a proper new-ball bowler.”

Chiefly a pace bowler, Akram has also been backed to shine with the bat by Taibu, given an opportunity up the order.

“Batting-wise, he is way better than he looks. He doesn’t look pretty, but the boy, if given a license to hit a cricket ball, he can hit a cricket ball. What I saw and what he has been used for is two different things.”

Akram, who has family roots in Pakistan, was raised in Zimbabwean capital Harare.

Zimbabwe star all-rounder Sikandar Raza, born in Punjab, is the other player of Pakistani origin in the Southern African team.

Zimbabwe head coach to miss Pakistan tour

Zimbabwe head coach Lalchand Rajput will miss the Pakistan tour after the Indian Embassy blocked him from travelling to Islamabad due to frosty relations between India and Pakistan.

The Embassy of India in Harare wrote to Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) asking that Rajput, who is an Indian national, be exempted from visiting Pakistan for the limited-overs tour in accordance with the travel guidelines stipulated by the Government of India for its citizens.

The Embassy of Pakistan in Harare had issued a visa to Rajput.

“With Rajput unavailable for the tour, ZC has appointed Zimbabwe bowling coach Douglas Hondo to take charge of the team for the three one-day international matches and as many Twenty20 international games against Pakistan,” ZC said in a statement.

Squad: Chamu Chibhabha (captain), Faraz Akram, Ryan Burl, Brian Chari, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Wesley Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Carl Mumba, Richmond Mutumbami, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Brendan Taylor, Donald Tiripano, Sean Williams.

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