Unpacking Zim’s tough World Cup draw

The 2015 International Cricket council World Cup draw and fixtures have been unveiled and the Pooling as well as the match-scheduling has presented stimulating scenarios for Zimbabwe.

Kevin Mapasure

This edition which will be co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia will be played over 44 days from 14 February to 29 March 2015.

Forty nine matches will be played in 14 venues with Australia staging 26 games at grounds in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney while New Zealand hosts 23 games in seven cities, including Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Wellington. [4]. The final of the tournament will take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Each of the two groups contain seven teams and the top four make it to the quarterfinal stages.

Zimbabwe coach Andy Waller might have been delighted at avoiding hosts New Zealand and Australia but there is confrontation with holders India, West Indies and Pakistan.

Zimbabwe’s opening match against neighbours South Africa is as tough as anything and the prospect of Brendan Taylor’s men clashing with Ireland presents an intriguing situation considering a little bit of history between the two.

Group B where Zimbabwe has been placed will feature one qualifier while the other has two.

That presents any of the Test playing teams with a very good chance of winning those two matches, but would Zimbabwe rather have been placed in the pool that has the hosts England and Sri Lanka?
Zimbabwe will play three of its group matches in Australia while the other three will be in New Zealand.

India have generally struggled in New Zealand, but that does not give too much hope to Zimbabwe who are failing to beat the cricket powerhouses in their own conditions in a five match One-Day International series.

But nothing can be taken for granted and beating India is not impossible. The 1999 edition of the global showcase’s three-run win against the Asian giants comes to mind when Zimbabwe also managed to progress to the Super Sixes stage.

With Zimbabwe having been placed in the same pool as the Proteas, the current team can draw inspiration from the class of 1999 which defeated South Africa by 48 runs in a pool match, but a lot has changed since then and the gulf between the two nations has grown wider.

Waller might have preferred to kick off with either Ireland or one of the other qualifiers to get the moment going and confidence high up.
The match against one of the yet to be determined qualifiers is Zimbabwe’s second match with Ireland coming in late as the fifth match.

Ireland would be comfortable in the New Zealand conditions where the clash takes place.

Zimbabwe struggled in New Zealand where they lost all matches in all formats in their most recent tour early last year.

If Zimbabwe is to qualify they will need to beat both Ireland and the other qualifier and hope for an upset against the other Test playing nations in the same Pool.

But even the match against Ireland will not be an easy one as the Irish have a point to prove, having led a fight against an initial decision to exclude non-Test playing nations from the global showcase.

Current evidence does not suggest a Zimbabwe team that can upstage the best but the encouraging part is that there are still two years and lots of cricket to be played in between.

At the last World Cup, Zimbabwe needed to beat one of the top teams but they failed and the campaign was another disaster where they only managed to win against Canada and Kenya but lost to Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Every match in the last few years has been about Zimbabwe trying to dispel doubt and no doubt by the time the tournament takes off, they will still have a lot to prove.

A lot of cricket will be played with Zimbabwe scheduled to host Pakistan and Sri Lanka in this month and November respectively playing all three formats against each.

Zimbabwe will also host Australia in a three-match ODI series next year before hosting South Africa in July for a series in all three formats.

In October of next year they are due to travel to Bangladesh before they tour Pakistan in December ahead of the global showcase.

Zimbabwe will play at least 18 ODIs before they play at the World Cup and have ample time to improve their performances.

They will need to improve their erratic away form and more importantly they will need to plug talent drain that has seen some of the most talented players opt to play abroad.

World Cup draw
Pool A: England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, two qualifiers

Pool B: South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, qualifier.

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