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24 February 201506:26

West Indies v Zimababwe preview, Match 15, Canberra

The winner of the match could take a big stride towards knockouts on Tuesday

West Indies v Zimababwe preview, Match 15, Canberra - Cricket News
West Indies and Zimbabwe face off against each other at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Tuesday (February 24), with a chance to move to second position in the points table in Pool B.

Both teams have resurrected their World Cup campaigns after losing their opening matches. While Zimbabwe saw off the United Arab Emirates, West Indies had every reason to be satisfied with its 150-run victory over Pakistan.

Still, Chris Gayle’s lack of runs at the top is a concern. Since the last of his 21 hundreds, against Sri Lanka in June 2013, he averages 14.42 from 19 matches. He has crossed 30 only thrice in that time. Despite his failures, however, West Indies has crossed 300 in both its matches at this World Cup, with Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell instrumental in late flourishes.

“Any team would love having Chris Gayle going guns blazing at the top,” said Jason Holder, the captain, on the eve of the game. “Obviously, yet he hasn't, but we still have full confidence in him. It's very good to see that he still hasn't fired and we're still getting 300 runs. I guess when his contribution comes, we'll get somewhere close to 400.”

West Indies will have to make one change, with Jonathan Carter likely to come in for the injured Darren Bravo, while Zimbabwe could restore Chamu Chibhabha to the top of the order after he missed the UAE game through injury. Regis Chakabva, who replaced him, consumed 62 balls for his 35.

Hamilton Masakadza, who started the tournament with a 74-ball 80 against South Africa, made his debut more than 13 years ago, but has never played in Australia before this tournament. For him, this match is special in more ways than one. Having made a Test hundred on debut against West Indies, Masakadza is looking forward to taking on his favourite opponent. “Even growing up, I used to watch a lot of their cricket, and they were pretty much my favourite team,” he said. “I really do enjoy playing against them.”

Having seen the damage West Indies did to Pakistan, he was wary of his team not being switched on from the first ball. “I think it's going to be really important to start off well, both with our batting and our bowling, because I think their top order is very dangerous,” he said. “We mustn't let them get away from us too quickly. Similarly, the batting. Pakistan were four down early, and you can't really recover from a position like that. We just have to make sure that we start early, both with bat and with ball.”

West Indies has won all four of its previous World Cup encounters, the last of them in Jamaica in 2007, and you have to go back to Guyana in March 2010 for the last Zimbabwe win. The two batting heroes that day were Tatenda Taibu, who retired at the age of 29 in 2012, and Vusi Sibanda, left out of the World Cup squad.

Zimbabwe's best performance came in 1999 and 2003 where it made it to the Super Six stage, while West Indies hasn't reached the semifinals since 1996. In a group where India has made all the early running, there are plenty of twists and turns in store. At the Manuka Oval, one of these sides could take a big stride towards the last eight.