Bulawayo: Oct 31, 2011
Zimbabwe go into their one-off Test against New Zealand Tuesday with injury doubts hanging over wicket keeper-batsman Tatenda Taibu and all-rounder Elton Chigumbura.
Losing either player would throw the balance of the Zimbabwe side out of kilter and so the hosts will wait until Monday to finalise their 15-man squad.
Taibu played as a specialist batsman in Zimbabwe's 2-1 series defeat in the recently concluded one-day series as he battles a long-standing finger problem, while Chigumbura is nursing a knee injury.
Zimbabwe have beaten Bangladesh and lost to Pakistan since returning to Test cricket in August following an absence of more than five years from five-day cricket, and will be hoping to end their home season on a high.
"New Zealand are a quality side but we feel we have a bowling attack that can make inroads into their line-up," said Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor.
"Daniel Vettori's arrival is a big boost for them, but we'll look to bat long and if we can take the game deep into day five then anything can happen."
Left-arm spinner Vettori skipped the limited overs matches after announcing that he would take a break from the shorter forms of the game.
Taylor scored 310 runs in the one-day series - a record aggregate for a three-match series - and will hope to produce the same form in the Test match.
The hosts could hand a Test debut to Malcolm Waller, whose 99 not out in the third one-day international allowed Zimbabwe to complete their highest ever run chase, as they achieved a target of 329 in a dramatic finale.
New Zealand will be playing their first Test since January, and will see the match as a perfect build-up to their two-Test series against Australia which starts on December 1.
The Black Caps will be without batsman Jesse Ryder, who suffered a calf strain after sending down just three deliveries in the drawn warm-up match against Zimbabwe A.
"Initially we were hopeful the injury wasn't too serious but unfortunately the scan showed damage to Jesse's calf and he will miss the Test match," said team manager Mike Sandle.
"He will return to New Zealand to undergo further assessment and a period of rehabilitation."
Although he isn't available for our next match the medical team are confident he will be fit for and available for selection for December's Test series in Australia."
Fast bowler Kyle Mills has already returned home after a scan picked up a slight tear to his abductor muscle following New Zealand's victory in the first one-day international in Harare. (AFP)
Zimbabwe (probable): Brendan Taylor (c), Regis Chakabva, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Christopher Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Njabulo Ncube, Raymond Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu, Prosper Utseya, Malcolm Waller.
New Zealand (robable): Ross Taylor (c), Graeme Aldridge, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Andy McKay, Jeetan Patel, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, BJ Watling, Reece Young.
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS) and Marais Erasmus (RSA)
TV umpire: TBC
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)