ZIMBABWE’S national team will step up the intensity of their International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 preparations ahead of their Group B first round opener against Hong Kong in 10 days’ time when they take on the West Indies at the Sharjah Cricket Ground in the United Arab Emirates today.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Dav Whatmore-coached side will take on a full-strength West Indies side today and on Monday before heading to India for the world tournament – to be played from March 8 to April 3.
While the two matches are not official T20 internationals, they will be of huge significance to the both teams as they gear up for the series ICC World T20.
Having already beaten Sharjah Cricket Club (SCC) in two practice matches last week, Zimbabwe will be hoping to continue their good form against the former World T20 champions.
On Thursday, Zimbabwe put on another convincing display as they restricted SCC to 135 runs for eight wickets after the hosts and won the toss and opted to bat.
Zimbabwe then set themselves a target of 180 runs to challenge their batsmen, a target they comfortably reached in their allotted 20 overs, for five wickets.
Leading the chase was Sikandar Raza, who top scored with an unbeaten 81 runs from 49 balls which included nine boundaries, three of them sixes. He was chosen as the player of the match.
Williams chipped in with 40 runs while opener Vusumuzi Sibanda also made a valuable contribution of 28 runs.
Zimbabwe won the first practice match against SCC by 17 runs on Tuesday in a match where all-rounder Luke Jongwe was hospitalised after he was struck on the head while attempting a return catch.
However, Zimbabwe Cricket’s public relations and media manager Darlington Majonga yesterday said the 21-year-old rising star had already been discharged from hospital.
“The Zimbabwe camp welcomed back all-rounder Luke Jongwe, who was discharged after 48 hours in hospital for observation following a head injury while attempting a return catch during the first practice match,” Majonga said in a statement.
“An X-ray revealed no damage but following a magnetic resonance imaging scan, the neurosurgeon advised hospitalisation for monitoring. The Zimbabwe squad will take a break today (yesterday), before two more practice matches at the Sharjah Cricket Ground. These will be against the West Indies today and Monday,” he said.
After playing West Indies, the national cricket team will head to Dharamshala in India for two official ICC World T20 warmup matches against Bangladesh on March 4 and Ireland two days later.
Zimbabwe are in Group B for the first round of the ICC World T20 together with Hong Kong, Scotland and Afghanistan and will need to finish top of the group to reach the Super 10 stage.
Zimbabwe squad for World T20: Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Sikandar Raza, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Luke Jongwe, Tendai Chisoro, Neville Madziva, Malcolm Waller, Vusi Sibanda, Graeme Cremer, Donald Tiripano (stand-by)