THE Zimbabwe national cricket team technical department is pleased to finally have all the players they require as the team leaves for the International Cricket Council T20 World Cup.
Over the last few months, Zimbabwe has been plagued by injuries and could barely field a full-strength side in the series they played against Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Australia, as well as the World Cup qualifiers that were hosted in Bulawayo.
They travel to Australia today with a squad of 15 buoyed by their recent performances as well as the return to contention of seasoned campaigners.
Assistant coach Stuart Matsikenyeri this week told IndependentSport that they were excited about their prospects at the global showcase particularly because all the key players were fit.
“We are obviously excited about going to the World Cup; it's something that we all look forward to and when those competitions come around it's something big. It’s been an exciting time right from qualifying for it and preparations for the tournament. We have gone through quite a number of exercises; we have had some healthy practice. I think the biggest thing for us is that we have got a healthy squad going into the tournament, which is something that we haven’t had for a long time; that gives us hope and excitement,” he said before discussing the team’s targets at the showcase.
“What we know is we want to go deep into the tournament; that means we have to go through the first round. We are getting into a place where we are quite confident in our abilities, so we should go as deep as we can.”
Zimbabwe missed out on the last edition after they were kicked out due to government interference in the running of the sport.
And because of that, Zimbabwe this time had to go via a qualification tournament against associate sides which they managed to sail through unscathed.
- Letter from America: Education: Zimbabwe still ahead of the pack
- Depression ‘fears’ for MisRed
- Kim Jayde revels in SA award nomination
- Dawson pleased with Sables’ progress
The team travel out today ahead of two warm-up matches before they take on Ireland on October 17, West Indies two days later and Scotland in their pool, where only two teams will progress to the Super 12.
Zimbabwe’s target is to make it to the Super 12 and after months loaded with international cricket and where they managed success, they are full of confidence that they can qualify to the second phase of this competition for the first time.
The team carries a weight of expectation considering the results they have posted in the last few months in white ball cricket.
They defeated Bangladesh in the One Day International and T-20 series that were played at Harare Sports Club before they put up some good performances against India albeit on a losing cause.
Their maiden win over Australia on Australian soil in their series 2-1 defeat last month also won the Chevrons more admirers and no one will take them lightly.
Skipper Craig Ervine, who missed the series against India as well as the visit to Australia, is back to lead the team while a lot will also be expected of Sean Williams and the in-form Sikandar Raza with the bat.
Their main seamers Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara, who were injured in the T20 World Cup qualifiers, have also made a timely return to lead the attack.
Zimbabwe (11) are ranked higher than two of their first round group opponents - Ireland (12) and Scotland (15) - with Caribbean side the West Indies (7) the only team they will face in the opening round with a higher team ranking. As such, Zimbabwe can be expected to finish in the top two of their group and at the very least qualify for the Super 12 stage.
Squad: Craig Ervine (c), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Clive Madande, Wesley Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Tony Munyonga, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Sean Williams.
Standby players: Tanaka Chivanga, Innocent Kaia, Kevin Kasuza, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Victor Nyauchi