New-look Zimbabwe up for Afghan challenge, says Madhevere
Zimbabwe will be without several senior players in their away series against Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates, but batsman Wesley Madhevere sees it as an opportunity for young players like him to prove their credentials.
Top-order linchpins Brendan Taylor and Craig Ervine, along with seamer Kyle Jarvis, have been left out because of illness - joining injured paceman Tendai Chatara on the sidelines.
A depleted Zimbabwe will meet Afghanistan on Tuesday for the first match of the two-test series in Abu Dhabi, where they will also play three Twenty20 internationals later this month.
"There are some senior players missing (and) it could be a disadvantage, but it presents an opportunity for the younger lads to learn and grow on the international stage," Madhevere told Reuters ahead of his likely test debut.
"It's going to take a lot for the younger generation to make a statement ... (but) this is a perfect opportunity to better your game and showcase your talent."
The 20-year-old honed his skills abroad as a high school student in South Africa. After making his one-day international debut in Bangladesh last year, he became the first Zimbabwean teenager since 2006 to score a half-century in the format.
Subsequent white-ball fifties against Pakistan, struck with the fluency and composure of a seasoned veteran, reinforced Madhevere's standing as his side's most promising young player.
"I know there's a lot of expectation just from what I've done in the shorter versions, but I'm going to use that as my motivation to keep on doing well," the middle-order batsman said.
Zimbabwe have recalled batsmen Ryan Burl and Tarisai Musakanda, both 26, who together with fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani, 24, will be hopeful of adding to their solitary test cap.
All-rounder Sikandar Raza and skipper Sean Williams will serve as experienced hands, but with Zimbabwe's stalwarts approaching retirement age this tour will offer a glimpse into the side's future.
In their favour is Afghanistan's own inexperience, having only played four tests since achieving red-ball status in 2017.
A finger injury on Rashid Khan's bowling hand puts him in doubt for his country's first-ever test against Zimbabwe, but his ability to shape the overall series remains a threat.
"He's probably one of the best leg-spinners in the world. We've all seen the impact he's had over a couple of years," Madhevere said.
"If we just follow our process I feel we will be able to tackle the challenges."