ZIMBABWE national cricket team coach Dave Houghton is pleased with the preparations the team has had as well as the condition of players ahead of the International Cricket Council World Cup qualifier starting this weekend.
The hosts will start off the 10-nation tournament with a match against Nepal at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Today, they play a warm-up match against Oman at Takashinga Cricket Ground.
They recently travelled to Gweru and Kwekwe for a training camp and bonding session.
Houghton, who has been in charge for a year, is thrilled that for the first time in his tenure, he will have a full strength squad at his disposal.
He is also pleased with the fitness levels of the players.
Yesterday, he told the media that his players are in the best condition.
“In April, we undertook a six-week fitness camp, so I am pleased to say going into this tournament, not only have I got a full strength squad for the first time in my year's tenure but everybody is looking fit, lean and really looking forward to go,” he said.
- Chevrons to maintain fearless approach against India
- Chevrons seek to break jinx
- Zimbabwe seek final flourish
- Poet joins fight against GBV
He said playing in front of home crowds will spur his players.
“The advantage is not so much the facilities, because it's a really good wicket and a quick outfield, the advantage of playing at home is the crowds. We will have a lot of people cheering us on which adds a little bit in terms of the ability on the field. You get that extra push from the crowds.”
Ahead of the warm-up today, he said he will have to manage the load on players well in this tournament.
"I just want us to start well with our batsmen getting some runs and the bowlers getting wickets. I have got to be careful because we want to go all the way in this tournament, so I will not be able to put the same 11 for all the matches in a row because if you do that you gonna have players playing ten matches in 22 days and that’s too much.”
Under his watch, Zimbabwe have been playing positive cricket, trying to win every match as opposed to trying to see out overs as they did in the past.
“We are not gonna change the way we play cricket, the positive cricket was not for one tournament. We are gonna give ourselves a chance of winning by playing positive cricket. We would rather lose trying to win, of course there is a danger of getting bowled out cheaply, but that's gonna be our approach.”
He praised their trip to the Midlands in the final leg of their preparations.
“The facilities in Kwekwe were amazing. We also stayed a night at Antelope Park which gave us a nice timefor bonding, not that we needed bonding, we are already bonded. But to have that time away uninterrupted in Kwekwe was good. They gave us centre wickets and five net bowlers, it was a good week’s camp.”
The ten teams are divided into two groups of five where the top three in each will advance to the Super Six stage.
The top two from the Super Six stage will advance to the final, but more importantly, to the World Cup, which will be hosted by India.