THE Zimbabwe national cricket team will walk onto the Harare Sports Club pitch today with hope and determination to dispel doubts about its international pedigree, a task that has become all too familiar now.
Zimbabwe takes on Pakistan in the first of a two T-20 match with the second on tomorrow at the same venue.
Captain Brendan Taylor yesterday told reporters at a press conference that his team’s task was to prove to the international cricket community that it deserves to play against the best.
Having struggled with the bat in the five-match One-Day International ODI) series against India recently, Taylor has challenged his fellow batsmen to complement the bowling attack which has been doing well.
“Bowling wasn’t an issue against India so we hope they continue doing well and hopefully the batting can complement them,” said Taylor.
“If we do that, we are going to get all three aspects right and be more competitive. We probably put ourselves under a lot of pressure, particularly myself, and I made three ducks but I think if we play with more freedom we can come up with positive results.”
Taylor said for Zimbabwe to do well against a top side like Pakistan, the experienced top order batsmen will have to do well.
For that to happen, opening batsmen Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza, and Taylor at number three, have to regain form and lead the team to victory to get some respite from increasing nagging.
With the departure of Kyle Jarvis, Shingi Masakadza, who was left out of the squad that played against India, could make a return in this format as his batting ability can also come in handy in a lineup that is struggling for confidence.
Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori are likely to lead the seam attack with the aid of all-rounder Elton Chigumbura while Prosper Utseya’s spin could be preferred ahead of the less experienced duo of Natsai Mushangwe and Tino Mutombodzi.
With so much at stake, Zimbabwe could unleash its most experienced pack as the team tries to kick into this tour with a positive result.
“We have been clamouring to play against top sides and regardless of our performance against India, I think we can take a few positives out of it and try and progress through this series. We know anything can happen if we do all basics right.
“We give ourselves a chance of winning we want to go out there and show people that we can play cricket at this level,” said Taylor.
He added that having done their homework, they expect to execute their game plan correctly and hope to surprise Pakistan, especially in the T-20 version.
“Pakistan is a world class side and we know that. We have done a lot of video research and come match day, it will be about executing our skills and trusting in our own abilities.”
Zimbabwe has recorded just four wins out of the 26 T-20s matches the team has played and Taylor said they would not focus on records but take each game as it comes.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said that they would not take anything for granted despite the gulf that exists between the two nations as evidenced by the rankings.
“We will not underrate them,” said Hafeez. “They are a good side, especially when they play at home. The last time we played Zimbabwe in 2011, there were some closely contested matches so we will remain focused with the aim of winning every match we play.”
Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller, Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Brian Vitori, Tino Mutombodzi, Natsai Mushangwe, Tinashe Panyangara, Sikandar Razza Butt, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya, Tymcen Maruma and Shingi Masakadza.