Zimbabwe captain Craig Ervine admits that his side faces a tough test when they face neighbours South Africa in their first T20 World Cup Super 12 encounter at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval on Monday but emphasised that they are relishing the opportunity to test themselves against the “bigger teams”.
The Chevrons are in a confident mood after qualifying for the Super 12 of a T20 World Cup for the first time following a five-wicket win against Scotland on Friday.
Friday’s win meant they finished top of Group B of the first-round matches, which secured them a place in Group 2 of the Super 12 alongside India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Netherlands and South Africa, whom they face on Monday.
“South Africa is going to be a tough start to the Super 12s, but everybody’s really looking forward to playing the bigger teams, putting up some more good performances and carrying on the momentum we’ve built so far,” Ervine said during Sunday’s pre-match Press conference in Hobart.
“It’s a little bit nerve-wracking to have to play all these big teams again, but it’s a great opportunity for guys to put their hands up and get in some really solid performances. It does take away a little bit of the pressure that we have felt over the last week during the qualifiers.
“I do think guys will be able to express themselves a little bit more and have more freedom to come out and play the game of cricket. Guys will have a lot of weight off their shoulders and can enjoy the next few games.”
Zimbabwe will bank on the good form of star allrounder Sikandar Raza, who has enjoyed a memorable campaign thus far after impressing with both bat and ball.
The 36-year-old scored 136 runs at a strike rate of 172.15, collected five wickets and conceded 5.24 runs per over during the first round of the competition.
Ervine is hoping that he can continue his good form against the Proteas, who will start Monday’s match as heavy favourites.
“He’s always going to be a key performer for us in the order as well as with the ball,” Ervine said.
“He’s been doing extremely well over the last few months and we’re going to desperately need him through the Super 12 stage. He strikes the ball so well, he scores so quickly, and his four overs with the ball are huge, especially to slow the run rate down. Guys can bat around him – his contribution the other night took a huge amount of pressure off me and allowed me to hold the innings together. His contribution is going to be huge.”
Meanwhile, South Africa captain Themba Bavuma says they will not be taking Zimbabwe lightly despite being favourites to win Monday’s encounter.
“We’re happy a fellow African country has made it through the qualifiers: they’re definitely not a side to be taken lightly,” he said.
“The biggest thing taken from the previous World Cup is every game matters. You want to perform as well as you can but make sure you keep a pulse on that net run rate.
“We want to start on a positive note. We don’t want to ease ourselves into the tournament. There really is no time to do that: if there’s an opportunity to win well, make sure we do that,” added Bavuma.