New Zealand to host Zimbabwe, South Africa

Wellington: New Zealand will host Zimbabwe for the first time in 11 years as part of a home international schedule early next year that also features South Africa, officials said on Friday.

New Zealand has long-standing travel sanctions on sports teams from Zimbabwe due to alleged human rights abuses by Robert Mugabe`s government but agreed to waive them this month provided the political situation did not deteriorate.

New Zealand Cricket said today the Zimbabwe tour would take place from January 26 to February 14. It will include one Test, three one-day internationals and two Twenty20 matches.

South Africa will tour from February 17 to March 27, playing three Tests, three one-dayers and three Twenty20s.

"It will be a very challenging summer of international cricket and we are looking forward to taking on South Africa and Zimbabwe at home in front of our fans," Black Caps captain Ross Taylor said.

"South Africa are currently ranked second in the world Test rankings so the three-Test series against them will be an excellent gauge of our progress."

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said no matches had been scheduled for Christchurch, where the city`s AMI Stadium has been closed since February`s devastating earthquake that killed 181 people.

He said the venue`s operators had been unable to guarantee the stadium would be ready to host international cricket early next year because of the impact of ongoing aftershocks.

Bureau Report

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