Zimbabwe ICC World Twenty20 2016 Tournament Preview & Guide
There is a composed look to the squad, and Hamilton Masakadza’s men will be eyeing a spot in the Super 10s
05 March 2016 16:10
Zimbabwe had the perfect start in the ICC World Twenty20, getting the better of Australia in its first match in the inaugural edition in 2007. It hasn’t quite hit those highs in subsequent editions, but this time around, there is a composed look to the squad, and Zimbabwe can be expected to live up to its reputation of being a good side in the shortest format. One bit of misfortune the side had was with the injuries that ruled out the trio of Graeme Cremer, Luke Jongwe and Neville Madziva. However, there is still enough experience in the ranks to inspire a surprise or two.
History: Zimbabwe provided the world with one of the bigger upsets when it defeated Australia by five wickets in its first ever World Twenty20 tie. The surprise win was set up by Elton Chigumbura’s three-wicket haul and an exceptional unbeaten 45-ball 60 from Brendan Taylor. However, since that fateful day in September 2007, Zimbabwe hasn’t won a game against a fellow Test-playing nation in the event.
In 2009 it withdrew from the tournament, and in 2010, it lost by narrow margins to Sri Lanka and New Zealand to make its exit. The pattern continued into the next edition as losses to Sri Lanka and South Africa saw its campaign off. 2014 was the best year for Zimbabwe in the tournament as it won two games after going down to Ireland in the opener. Wins against Netherlands and United Arab Emirates weren’t enough to take it through to the next round, though.
Captain: Hamilton Masakadza
Coach: Dav Whatmore
Preview: Losing three quality players to injury little over a week before a big event isn’t ideal but that’s what Zimbabwe is dealt with and it will have to regroup in quick time. The good thing is, it’s playing teams which it has gotten the better of in the past and it has brought in three capable players – Chamu Chibhabha, Tawanda Murapiwa and Donald Tiripano – as replacements. The other teams in the group – Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland – don’t have the collective experience Zimbabwe can boast of, and that advantage could just make the difference in Zimbabwe’s quest for a Super 10s berth. This time around, it also has the strength and experience of Makhaya Ntini, the bowling coach, the make use of.
Strengths: Zimbabwe’s strength lies in its ability to keep it tight. It doesn’t possess a batting line-up full of big names or an express pace unit, but it has the clinical elements of each of those facets and getting them together has resulted in a fair few victories for the side in the shortest format. With fielding traditionally good among Zimbabwe sides, the team will back itself to top the group.
Recent Form: Beat Bangladesh by 18 runs, beat Bangladesh by 31 runs, lost to Bangladesh by 42 runs, lost to Bangladesh by four wickets, lost to Afghanistan by 81 runs.
We are fortunate that we have got the time to be able to train hard and play practice matches before the World T20 tournament. I’m sure all those factors are going to put us in a better position come the actual tournament and I’m confident the boys will be ready
Since Brendan Taylor called it quits, Sean Williams has taken over the role as one of the team’s leading batsmen with intensity. The left-hander from Bulawayo has a good record and he offers an interesting mix of steady scoring and aggressive run-gathering depending on the situation. He is also very useful with his left-arm spin bowling. Williams has had great success with the side in the ODI format, and for Zimbabwe to progress in the tournament, much will depend on the 29-year-old delivering consistently.
One to Watch: Wellington Masakadza
This 22-year-old doesn’t have a good number of games or a heady number of scalps under his belt to incite fear in the ranks but he has shown, with his tidy lines and lengths, that his left-arm spin can be more than effective against quality oppositions. He has played only four T20Is so far, impressing in a couple of games. The younger brother of Hamilton, he relies on flight and the arm-ball variation to get most of his wickets, and on slow turning wickets in the sub-continent, he can be among the many spinners to benefit.
#That6 Hitter: Hamilton Masakadza
The skipper has been around long enough to command respect, but it’s his ability to strike the ball that truly earns him his reputation as the most destructive batsman in the side. His ability to muscle the ball against all bowlers has brought 32-year-old 46 sixes in 44 T20Is, and that tally only looks set to increase during this tournament. Every once in a while, Hamilton shows just how much power he packs in every shot, and that is a sight to behold.
Sikandar Raza, the team’s allrounder, intended to become a fighter pilot and then a software engineer, but neither of those dreams materialised. As destiny would have it, he eventually he became one of Zimbabwe’s most consistent performers.
The Masakadza household has the distinction of being the first family in Zimbabwe to have had three brothers play for the national side. Hamilton is the oldest, then comes Shingirai and Wellington is the youngest.
After going down to Ireland off the last ball of its 2014 World T20 opener, Zimbabwe’s next encounter against the Netherlands too went down to the final delivery. Stuart Thompson came up with the winning runs for Ireland, but on the second occasion, Zimbabwe had the bat in hand and it was up to Vusi Sibanda. With one run needed from one ball, Sibanda smashed Ahsan Malik over long-on to hand Zimbabwe its first win in the tournament since 2007.
Key Match: Zimbabwe’s key game in the first round of the World T20 will be against Afghanistan. Apart from the fact that both the sides possess near identical batting and bowling strong points, they also have a recent history to make this clash the one to look out for. The last two times these sides have engaged in a series, Afghanistan have come out on top by winning the T20I and the ODI series on both occasions.
What people are saying about them:
“From where we are starting, we can only go forward from there. We didn’t have the best of years in 2015 in terms of results and I believe we can only get better. The guys are really looking forward to the tournament and are all very motivated to start getting the positive results.” - Hamilton Masakadza, the Zimbabwe skipper.
“We are fortunate that we have got the time to be able to train hard and play practice matches before the World T20 tournament. I’m sure all those factors are going to put us in a better position come the actual tournament and I’m confident the boys will be ready.” - Makhaya Ntini, the bowling coach.
Pommie Mbangwa Prediction – Zimbabwe: Super 10 Stage
They will have real aspirations of defeating one of the bigger teams in the Super 10 stage but all the way through they will be pushed. Hamilton Masakadza has taken over the captaincy from Elton Chigumbura and both have been in decent form domestically. Others in the squad have been around a while and as ever, the issue will be playing enough in the lead up to the tournament so as to have got into a groove and gelled. I think they will edge past Afghanistan to make it to the Super 10 but no further than that.
Squad: Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Sikandar Raza Butt, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Chamu Chibhabha, Tendai Chisoro, Tawanda Mupariwa, Malcolm Waller, Vusumuzi Sibanda, Donald Tiripano.
Tuesday, March 8: v Hong Kong, VCA Stadium, Nagpur
Thursday, March 10: v Scotland, VCA Stadium, Nagpur
Saturday March 12: v Afghanistan, VCA Stadium, Nagpur