Melbourne – With new coach Dave Houghton at the helm and their recent white-ball form extremely good, expectations are high for Zimbabwe heading into the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup in Australia this month.
Expectations are much higher for the African country since Houghton took over as coach and it is worth noting that Zimbabwe have only lost one T20I since the former skipper took the coaching reins in June this year.
They also registered an upset 50-over victory over Australia in Queensland last month, so confidence will be sky high within the camp.
Skipper Craig Ervine will be relied upon to contribute runs at the top of the order alongside Wessly Madhevere and Sikandar Raza, while pacer Brad Evans and spinning all-rounder Ryan Burl are among a number of decent options that Zimbabwe have at their disposal with the ball.
Zimbabwe (11) are ranked higher than two of their first-round group opponents —Ireland (12) and Scotland (15) — with Caribbean side the West Indies (7) the only team they will face in the opening round with a higher team ranking.
As such, Zimbabwe can be expected to finish in the top two of their group and at the very least qualify for the Super 12 stage.
Sikandar Raza — the star all-rounder is one of the form white-ball players in the entire world and the 36-year-old will need to fire if Zimbabwe are going to reach the Super 12 stage.
Raza was named Player of the Tournament during Zimbabwe’s unbeaten Qualifier B campaign and three ODI centuries during the month of August alone saw him become the first Zimbabwe player to claim ICC’s coveted Player of the Month award. Raza also bowls some more than handy off-spin, so expect the veteran to shine with both bat and ball in Australia.
What they said:
“We need to come in the top two for us to qualify for the next round,” Zimbabwe coach Houghton recently told the Sunday Mail Sport.
“As far as I am concerned, we should be looking at winning that pool and I do not see anybody in that pool who we cannot beat on a good day.”
“It is obviously the best squad that we can actually put together and the best players are back from injury and it is great to have them.”
Zimbabwe v Ireland (October 17) — If Zimbabwe are going to finish in the top two of their group and qualify for the Super 12 stage then they need to get off to a fast start against a talented Ireland team that will be keen to do the same.
Former Zimbabwe captain and new coach Houghton will have his troops ready for this clash and it is interesting to note that Ireland won a tight five-game series 3-2 when the two teams met prior to last year’s T20 World Cup.
Scotland v Zimbabwe (Friday October 21 — Hobart) — A potential decider for a Super 12 spot, Scotland will want to emulate their 2021 success, though Zimbabwe did not take part in the last competition cycle due to their ICC suspension, and provide a new challenge.
Zimbabwe are a side on the up after hiring Houghton as head coach, and progress to the Super 12 stage will now be the minimum goal.
The Scots lost a home T20I series to Zimbabwe in 2021, and lost their only meeting at a T20 World Cup back in 2016.
Craig Ervine (c), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Tony Munyonga, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Sean Williams.
Standby Players: Tanaka Chivanga, Innocent Kaia, Kevin Kasuza, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Victor Nyauchi
Best finish at tournament:
First round (2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016)
Results in the last 10 games:
(Most recent first): W L W W W W W W L L
v Ireland (October 17), Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v West Indies (October 19), Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v Scotland (October 21) Bellerive Oval, Hobart