Cricket - Green light for Harare Test

Zimbabwe's Test series against Pakistan is set to go ahead after a potential player strike over late payments was averted.

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Cricket - Green light for Harare Test
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Zimbabwe's opening Test with Pakistan in Harare is set to go ahead

The home team had formed a players' union and reportedly aborted their training session last Friday after discovering their salaries had not been paid in full by Zimbabwe Cricket.

They took to the field for Saturday's decisive third one-day international, which they lost by 108 runs, but threatened a boycott of the two Tests unless the payments were made before Monday.

Though that deadline was not met either, Tuesday's series opener in Harare will go ahead, with captain Brendan Taylor telling ESPN Cricinfo: "(We will) take the word of ZC that they will pay before the second Test."

Batsman Sean Williams was the one exception and is set to miss the match.

It also emerged over the weekend that Sri Lanka Cricket has approached other countries to step in should Zimbabwe cancel their scheduled tour in October, with SLC chairman Nishanth Ranatunga admitting: "We have written to a few countries that are without any international fixtures in October-November and are awaiting a response from them."

The ongoing financial issues also saw Geoff Allardice, the International Cricket Council's general manager for cricket, arrive in Harare on Sunday night for a three-day visit to discuss the ICC Future Tours Programme.

ZC chairman Peter Chingoka had raised concerns at an ICC board meeting in London over the cost of hosting bilateral series.

A ZC press release read: "This morning (Monday), Allardice held a meeting with the chairman and ZC executives, and discussions will continue during his stay. In between the meetings, Allardice will also watch some sessions of the first two days of the first Test between Zimbabwe and Pakistan."

Taylor himself is a doubt for Zimbabwe after missing training on Monday with the birth of his first child expected. Opener Tino Mawoyo, meanwhile, is hoping for a recall after a long lay-off with a groin injury.

Pakistan spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman are likely to present the biggest test to Zimbabwe's batsmen but captain Misbah-ul-Haq wants to see his side also improve the other facets of their bowling and fielding.

"We want to improve in our fast bowling and the lengths we are bowling in these conditions," he told Cricinfo.

"We especially need to improve our fielding. We have two spinners who have been performing very well. They have been winning Test matches for us and we really bank on them.

"At the same time, (left-arm seamer) Junaid Khan is performing well at Test level. These conditions offer something for both seamers and spinners, so whoever bowls well can get results. It's an opportunity for them to bowl well and take wickets."

Opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez is a doubt after injuring a hamstring while batting on Saturday, with Khurram Manzoor and the uncapped Shan Masood the other options at the top of the order.

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