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Former England batter Ballance debuts for Zimbabwe in Ireland T20

Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to field in the first of three Twenty20 internationals against Ireland at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.

The home team included Gary Ballance, 33, the former England test and one-day international batter, who will debut for his country of birth.

“We hope he will make a big difference to our top order,” said Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton. “Gary is raring to go.”

Ballance was released by English county Yorkshire last year after admitting he used racist language against teammate Azeem Rafiq.

Revelations by Pakistan-born Rafiq of institutional racism triggered wholesale changes at the club.

Zimbabwe lacked star batter Sikandar Raza – shortlisted for three 2022 International Cricket Council awards – who is playing franchise cricket in Bangladesh.

The teams last met at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia with Zimbabwe winning a first round match by 31 runs.

ZIMBABWE: Tadiwanashe Marumani, Craig Ervine (capt), Gary Ballance, Wessly Madhevere, Sean Williams, Ryan Burl, Clive Madande (wkt), Brad Evans, Wellington Masakadza, Richard Ngarava, Tendai Chatara

IRELAND: Ross Adair, Andy Balbirnie (capt), Stephen Doheny (wkt), Harry Tector, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Tyrone Kane, Gareth Delany, Mark Adair, Fionn Hand, Barry McCarthy

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