ZIMBABWE national cricket team coach Dav Whatmore has said that failure to progress to the Super 10s of the 2016 World Twenty20 tournament to be held in India from March 8 to April 3 is not an option for his side.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The senior side was last week drawn in Group B alongside Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland for the opening round of the global T20 competition, where only the group winners will join the eight top-ranked sides in the Super 10 stage.
Group A features Bangladesh, Netherlands, Ireland and debutants Oman.
Should Zimbabwe clear the first hurdle, they will join England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and neighbours South Africa in Group One of the Super 10 stage.
Commenting on the draw for the first time, Whatmore said Zimbabwe, being the only full member in the group, would have no excuse if they fail to qualify.
“We have to win our group and qualify for the Super 10 stage. It’s as simple as that,” Whatmore told NewsDay Sport in an interview yesterday.
“We cannot afford not to qualify for the Super 10 stage again, but we also have to work hard to ensure we are prepared because everyone is aiming to progress and it won’t be easy,” he said.
At the last edition of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament, held last year in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe failed to make it to the Super 10 stage after beating United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Netherlands, but lost to Ireland in a nail-biting encounter.
Whatmore’s immediate task is next week’s tour of the UAE, where they will face Afghanistan in five one-day internationals (ODIs) and two T20s.
Whatmore, who released the players to feature for their franchises in the Logan Cup and Pro50 matches this week, said he was delighted to have senior batsman Hamilton Masakadza back in the squad.
Masakadza was dropped from the squad for the home series against Ireland and Afghanistan as well as the tour of Bangladesh due to poor form.
Whatmore said the 32-year-old top-order batsman had regained his place in the squad after doing well for both Zimbabwe A and his franchise Mountaineers.
“He did well for Zimbabwe A against both Bangladesh and Ireland and he has also been consistent for Mountaineers. Based on those performances, he has certainly earned his place back into the side and will be a valuable addition for the team not only for the upcoming tour, but going forward. We have allowed the guys to play for their franchises because we believe provincial cricket is important and will definitely give the guys some competitive game time,” he said.
Zimbabwe, who leave for the UAE on Tuesday, will be without all-rounder Sean Williams, who has been replaced by spinner Tendai Chisoro after suffering a hamstring injury.
Afghanistan toured Zimbabwe in October winning the ODI and T20 series 2-3 and 0-2 respectively to become the first Associate nation to achieve that feat against a Test-playing country.
Zimbabwe squad: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer, Chamu Chibhabha, Tinashe Panyangara, Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva, Hamilton Masakadza, Wellington Masakadza, Taurai Muzarabani, Sikander Raza, PJ Moor (wk), Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Sean Williams and Craig Ervine