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New boys from Afghanistan take on strong Zimbabwe XI

Afghanistan and Zimbabwe XI make their debuts at first-class match in Mutare
2172 New boys from Afghanistan take on strong Zimbabwe XI
Afghanistan and Zimbabwe XI make their debuts in the ICC Intercontinental Cup tomorrow (Sunday) as they go head to head for a four-day, first-class match in Mutare.

Having finished fifth at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in South Africa last April, Afghanistan is riding high and will be looking to match its one-day form with success at the four-day game.

The squad has a familiar look to it with Nawroz Mangal still leading the side with proven performers Hamid Hassan, Rais Ahmadzai and Mohammad Nabi also making the trip on a tour that includes another Intercontinental Cup match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam and two ODIs against the Dutch at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, former Test captain Tatenda Taibu will lead a strong Zimbabwe XI that also includes full internationals Chris Mpofu, Timycen Maruma, the in-form Forster Mutizwa, Friday Kasteni, Cephas Zhuwawo, Regis Chakabva and Tafadzwa Kamungozi.

ZIMBABWE XI (squad): Tatenda Taibu (captain), Timycen Maruma, Forster Mutizwa, Admire Manyumwa, Chris Mpofu, Natsai Mushangwe, Friday Kasteni, Bothwell Chapungu, Tendai Chisoro, Cephas Zhuwawo, Regis Chakabva, Shingirai Masakadza, Trevor Garwe, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Mbekezeli Mabuza.

AFGHANISTAN (squad): Nawroz Mangal (captain), Khaleqdaad Noori, Karim Khan Sadiq, Mohammad Nabi Eisakhil, Mirwais Ashraf, Rais Ahmadzai, Dawlat Ahmadzai, Mohammad Shahzad Mohammadi, Hamid Hassan, Samiullah Shinwari, Ahmad Shah Ahmadi, Noor Ali Noori, Asghar Stanikzai, Shahpoor Zadran.

Umpires: Jeff Luck of the ICC Associates and Affiliates Umpires' Panel and a local appointment

The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception five years ago and now the ICC's premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members' cricket schedule.

Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event then evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.

This year's format will include seven teams (Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands, Scotland and Zimbabwe XI) while a new competition, the ICC Intercontinental Shield will involve four teams below that, namely Bermuda, Namibia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in all three events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider, Canada in the 2006-07 event and Namibia in 2007-08.

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