Zimbabwe: Afghan Tour of Zimbabwe Hangs in the Balance

Harare, Zimbabwe — ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) is hoping for third time lucky as the recent increase in the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread might jeopardise the senior team’s resumption of international games.

The cases of the virus are spiraling ahead of a scheduled tour by Afghanistan at the end of July until August.

Five Twenty20 International (T20I) matches are lined up.

However, this has coincided with a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Southern African country where 1 478 cases and 25 deaths have been confirmed.

Most of the cases are returnees from neighbouring Botswana and South Africa. There has also been a marginal increase in local transmission, which has seen the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa threatening to toughen lockdown restrictions this week.

The COVID-19 curse has recently led to the cancellation of Zimbabwe’s tour to Australia.

Zimbabwe were also scheduled to embark on a tour to India this month but that again was cancelled because of the global outbreak.

India has the third-worst highest infection rate (1,18 million), only behind the United States and Brazil.

Coincidentally, Zimbabwe’s Indian coach, Lalchaland Rajput, is still holed up in his country as a result of the closure of borders and the prohibition of international flights.

Darlington Majonga, the ZC spokesperson, told CAJ News Africa the association was still committed to hosting Afghanistan despite the prevailing crisis.

“Our Afghanistan counterparts are still committed to the tour which we had agreed on prior to the lockdown,” Majonga said.

Zimbabwe imposed the lockdown on April 1.

Majonga highlighted that the tour nonetheless was subject to government approval.

“We have since written to the government asking for permission to host the tour and detailing the measures and protocols that we are putting in place with regards to the coronavirus,” Majonga said.

The Zimbabwean team, known as The Chevrons, has resumed training under strict government protocols after the administration recently eased the lockdown.

Majonga said the health of players, technical, support staff and everyone involved in the game was of paramount importance.

The national cricket team began their preparations last month with testing for the virus and saw all 33 players testing negative.

“For now, we have to wait for the government’s decision before we can announce the way forward regarding that (Afghan) tour,” Majonga said.

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