Tinashe Kusema
\nMOST eyes will be fixed on the duo of Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura when Zimbabwe engage visiting Pakistan in a two Twenty20 and three One Day International series starting today at Harare Sports Club. Arguably the most seasoned campaigners in the team, the two are on the cusp of personal milestones in both formats.Masakadza needs only 32 runs to become the first Zimbabwean player to smash 1000 T20 runs. Chigumbura, who is expected to be the Chevrons’ focal point during the ODI matches,needs only three sixes to become the first Zimbabwe player to hit 100 ODI maximums.

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The ODI captain is also three wickets shy of becoming the fifth Zimbabwean to take 100 ODI wickets,  which would put him in the company of Heath Streak, Grant Flower, Prosper Utseya and Raymond Price. Streak currently stands as the highest wicket taker with 239 scalps, while Utseya, Grant Flower and Price follow with 139, 104 and 100 wickets respectively.

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Chigumbura is fifth on that list with 97 wickets. However, such is the mentality and team spirit that gaffer Dav Whatmore has instilled in the boys that both players seemed unmoved by the impeding milestones.“It’s actually news to me, I had no idea that such a feat existed,” said Masakadza.“My main goal right now is to go out there, give the team a good start and make sure we put ourselves in positions that will give us a win.

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“We have been preparing very well; played some practice matches, put in some time in the nets and had a good team bonding session in Gweru which has put us in the right frame of mind to do well.” Chigumbura sang from the same page. “Having a good start is going to be very crucial for us, as it was one of the biggest downfalls when we played Pakistan earlier this year.“While it would be nice to achieve these feats, there is very little room for one to play for themselves.

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The team comes first. Morale is very high in camp and everyone is on the same page as far as what we want to achieve. “We had a bonding trip a week or so ago and while it was just for two days I think the team really came together and everyone wants to play for their teammates.“I intend to play the same way I have always played; try construct a proper innings, give myself room to get a good score and if the feat comes then that will be that,” he said. There are indications that Chigumbura, who has been victim of some experimentation since the World Cup earlier this year, could be returning to his usual number seven slot.Chigumbura has of late been batting at number four but the inclusion of wicketkeeper/batsman Richmond Mutumbami could see him bat lower down the order.

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The 29-year old captain confirmed his return to bowling duties.
\n“Yes, I will bowl during this series. I have done my rehab and feeling good again,so the time for me to return to bowling duties has come,” he said.