Zimbabwe - How Far Ahead Of The Associates Are They?
Not a lot is expected from Zimbabwe during this year's World Cup as they haven't had a lot of match practice and success as of late. In fact, combined with the financial difficulties and being whitewashed by Bangladesh in the Test and One-Day International series in October-December, Zimbabwe haven't had much to talk about except beating Australia for the first time in 31 years, which they accomplished in August during an ODI tri-series against the Baggy Greens and South Africa.
There has also been a huge change in personnel as Dav Whatmore has taken over the head coach position following Zimbabwe's disastrous tour of Bangladesh. According to reports, Zimbabwe were also having problems getting along with Whatmore's predecessor, Stephen Mangongo, since he was known for being overtly strict and getting under the team's skin.
In fact, he even pushed Natsai Mushangwe in May 2013 for failing to deliver instructions to the batsmen at the crease. Since Zimbabwe have been experiencing internal problems, there is no doubt that their mindset with be very scattered heading into the World Cup. The other issue is whether Whatmore will have enough time to get to know the side properly and help them iron out their weaknesses prior to the start of the marquee event.
One of the other major concerns Zimbabwe face is getting accustomed to the conditions in Australia and New Zealand. Since Zimbabwe have only played on home soil and in Bangladesh as of late, it is likely that they will look very uncomfortable during their first few World Cup matches since they will still be getting used to the pitches and weather conditions. However, should they be able to get used to the different conditions in quick time, there could cause their opposition a few problems due to their rather impressive squad.
Continuing on the topic of Zimbabwe's squad, the only major surprise was the inclusion of all-rounder Stuart Matsikenyeri. Having played in last ODI in February 2012, it will be very tough for Matsikenyeri to find his feet once again since Zimbabwe only have a few warm-up matches before the World Cup begins on 14th February. But, on the other hand, it will also be interesting to see how Matsikenyeri fares in his first ODI after more than three years.
15th February – South Africa v Zimbabwe in Hamilton
19th February – United Arab Emirates v Zimbabwe in Nelson
24th February – West Indies v Zimbabwe in Canberra
1st March – Pakistan v Zimbabwe in Brisbane
7th March – Ireland v Zimbabwe in Hobart
14th March – India v Zimbabwe in Auckland
Recent Form (last 10 ODI matches):
(recent) L, L, L, L, L, L, W, L, L, L
December 1, 2014 - Lost to Bangladesh by five wickets (Dhaka)
November 28, 2014 - Lost to Bangladesh by 21 runs (Dhaka)
November 26, 2014 - Lost to Bangladesh by 124 runs (Dhaka)
November 23, 2014 - Lost to Bangladesh by 68 runs (Chittagong)
November 21, 2014 - Lost to Bangladesh by 87 runs (Chittagong)
September 4, 2014 - Lost to South Africa by 63 runs (Harare)
August 31, 2014 - Beat Australia by three wickets (Harare)
August 29, 2014 - Lost to South Africa by 61 runs (Harare)
August 25, 2014 - Lost to Australia by 198 runs (Harare)
August 21, 2014 - Lost to South Africa by seven wickets (Bulawayo)
World Cup Stat:
Zimbabwe have won a W/L ratio of 0.270 having won 10 games and lost 37 games.
Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Solomon Mire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tinashe Panyangara, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams
Player To Watch:
Hamilton Masakadza - Despite being 31 years old and having played international cricket for 14 years, Masakadza will be playing in his first World Cup. Masakadza missed out on the 2003, 2007 and 2011 edition of the World Cup due to inexperience, injury and poor form.
However, given that Masakadza has been one of Zimbabwe's bright spots in the dark and dreary times they have experienced over the past couple of months, there is no doubt that he will be raring to show the talent he possesses in front of high-profile players and on the biggest stage of them all.
© Cricket World 2015