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Whatmore expects favour

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ZIMBABWE cricket team coach Dav Whatmore expects the conditions in New Zealand and Australia to favour his side in their goal to reach the Super Eight stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

The much-travelled Australian coach made the comments after watching his bowlers put on a splendid display against a strong New Zealand side in a washed-out warm-up match in Lincoln on Monday.

“What’s going in our favour is the fact that the conditions will not be sub-continental. I just feel that the boys will be a lot more comfortable in those conditions because the ball won’t stop and turn, but will come on to the bat. You need to make runs; if you do not make certain amount of runs to set a decent target, then you are not going to win,” Whatmore told mid-day.com in an interview in New Zealand.

“In some ways, it will be similar to my stint with Bangladesh when I took them to West Indies in 2007. We were not favourites by any imagination then, but we targeted the next round and we managed to pull it off,” said Whatmore, who has previously led unfancied sides like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to upset wins at the global showpiece.

“We have an opportunity. We can be competitive and win against UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Ireland. I do see that Ireland has improved and put in consistent performances. We have to be at our very best to try and win the third game. In saying that, we have a number of things that we need to look into to be able to perform consistently.

“We need to prepare well, get the strategy right, create a happy and healthy environment, and manage the team well,” said Whatmore about his targets for the tournament.

Zimbabwe open their World Cup campaign against South Africa on Sunday ahead of other Pool B matches against UAE (February 19), West Indies (February 24), Pakistan (March 1), Ireland (March 7) and India (March 14).

Whatmore said while he expected his charges to beat Ireland and the UAE, the non-Test nations in Pool B, they also needed to find a way to defeat at least one of the big teams.

On his analysis of the squad at his disposal, Whatmore said his team’s hopes would be pinned on the side’s batting top order where the likes of Sikander Raza, Hamilton Masakadza, and Brendan Taylor are expected to play a crucial role.

The veteran coach also singled out the middle order trio duo of Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Stuart Matsikenyeri, whom he said would provide some stability to their batting lineup.

“Hamilton Masakadza will be playing his first World Cup after missing previous tournaments due to injuries and bad form. We can also expect healthy contributions from Brendan Taylor who is one of our best players. Williams is a hard worker.

“At six, Craig Ervine in pretty decent. Stuart Matsikenyeri is back again. We are able to bat deep with Elton, Chigumbura and Solomon Mire being there too,” Whatmore said.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s batsmen will be desperate to get some batting practice when they wind up their preparations in today’s final warm-up match against Sri Lanka.

The batsmen did not get any time in the middle after their first official warm-up match against New Zealand on Monday and Whatmore will be desperate for them to score some confidence boosting runs ahead of their first World Cup match on Sunday.

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