Hobart – Brimming with belief after humbling Australia’s formidable one-day international side last month, Zimbabwe are back Down Under and determined to make the Super 12 stage at the Twenty20 World Cup for the first time.
Zimbabwe, 11th in the world rankings, are contesting their first championship since 2016 and are grouped in Hobart alongside Ireland, West Indies and Scotland with two spots up for grabs in the next round.
They have never gone beyond the group stage at the 20-overs showpiece but their point of difference this time could be hard-hitting all-rounder Ryan Burl, who bamboozled Australia with his leg-spin when he snared 5-10 during the recent upset.
“I think the overall confidence and morale is high after the final ODI win in Australia,” the 28-year-old told Reuters.
“Having played the series in Australia, where we’ll play the World Cup, means that we’re a lot more prepared and confident going into the tournament. It’s a massive tournament and every game means a lot.”
Twice champions West Indies are favoured to top Group B with Zimbabwe and Ireland expected to fight it out for second spot. Ireland have beaten Zimbabwe in five of their eight T20 internationals.
The battle lines are drawn!
All the 16 captains in one frame 📸
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) October 15, 2022
Zimbabwe have been vocal about their desire to play fearlessly though, and their prospects have been enhanced by the selection of a full-strength squad.
Providing composure up the order, limited-overs skipper Craig Ervine returns from injury along with towering pace spearhead Blessing Muzarabani.
As Zimbabwe’s premier batsman, stylish left-hander Sean Williams will be relied upon to score fluently and anchor the innings while franchise-circuit regular Sikandar Raza assumes the role of finisher.
The African side will face Ireland at Bellerive Oval on Monday, followed by West Indies on Wednesday and Scotland on Friday.