21 August 201000:49

Zimbabwe looking forward to Australia test in World Cup

Zimbabwe believes that it is capable of challenging Australia in its first match in Ahmedabad

Zimbabwe looking forward to Australia test in World Cup - Cricket News

Zimbabwe fast bowler Chris Mpofu dives as he throws the ball during training.

With six months to go until its opening game at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, Zimbabwe believes that it is capable of challenging Australia in its first match in Ahmedabad.

All-rounder Hamilton Masakadza and Stephen Mangongo, Zimbabwe's assistant coach, shared their thoughts with the ICC website ahead of the tournament.

What are your thoughts ahead of your opening match against Australia?

Hamilton Masakadza: "As an opener it will be crucial to give a solid start to the batting. It is certainly a trial playing against the best in the world [Australia], the twenty over game is definitely different from the fifty over game and we have to step up to the challenge and prove ourselves. As players we live to play against the very best and we are looking forward to taking the game to the Aussies."

Stephen Mangongo: "We are definitely relishing the challenge, we have had a 100% record in the Twenty20 version against Australia and we will like to carry on with that confidence and momentum into the World Cup."

What is your main focus for the next six months of preparation?

Hamilton Masakadza : "The next six months will be very crucial because everything we will be doing as players will be geared towards the world cup. It is the biggest tournament and the biggest thing for any player in one day cricket, even the programmes and individual preparations are directed towards preparing for the cup. The domestic season is starting soon and each one of us will have to prepare ourselves for the grand stage in India."

Stephen Mangongo: "The next six months are massive for us, we are a young team, we are an enthusiastic side. We would like to prove to the world that we have come of age. We are excited that we are going out to the World Cup with intent and we look forward to go out there and compete and make sure that we progress to the second round. These next six months are six months of hard work and there are no illusions about that. We will work hard day in day out 24/7 to make sure that we are thoroughly prepared. My role is to teach the boys how to cope with pressure on a team and individual level."

What special memories do you have of playing in India in the past and why is it such an enjoyable place to play?

Hamilton Masakadza: "The one that stands out is playing the in Dilip Cup. It was a big turning wicket and our spinners on one occasion took all ten wickets; Prosper [Utseya] took three and Graeme [Cremer] took seven. I also have memories of the ICC Champions Trophy. Although we did not qualify it was a lifetime experience to play in the two different areas and playing in different conditions. On one side the pitch was spin friendly and the other end there was a little movement for the quickies. That is one the biggest things about the sub-continent because you always know that the conditions assist spinners a lot and you will have to adapt to playing long spells of spin.

Stephen Mangongo: "India is a place where people love cricket, people live cricket, eat and sleep cricket so it 'the' to place to play cricket. Every cricketer dreams of playing cricket in India. As a coach there is nothing bigger than the World Cup, it is an opportunity to showcase my ability and there is no better place to do that than in India."