ZIMBABWE’S clash with Ireland in the preliminary stages of the International Cricket Council (ICC) T-20 World Cup is touted as the potential banana skin for the full-member side, but vice-captain and opening batsman Hamilton Masakadza is already looking beyond the encounter.
Zimbabwe will negotiate their way through to the World Cup proper in Bangladesh if they finish top of their preliminary round group in which they engage United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.
The last T-20 World Cup was disastrous for Zimbabwe who lost heavily to both Sri Lanka and South Africa after they had also lost a warm-up match against Ireland.
Despite the problems that seriously hampered Zimbabwe’s preparations after an industrial action lasting months, Masakadza said the team should be looking beyond the preliminary stage and work at putting up a better show in the Super Ten stage.
“We know that Ireland will pose some threat, but we should still beat them and progress to the next stage, said Masakadza. “We have played them before and beat them; we have also played stronger sides and won, so while we have to be careful it shouldn’t be a big problem winning.”
Masakadza said Zimbabwe was better prepared for conditions on the sub-continent with a significant number of players having played in the Bangladesh and Dakar Premier Leagues.
“A number of players in the squad spent some months in Bangladesh, so we now know the conditions better. Lack of that knowledge has affected us in the past and this time it should be different and we are looking forward to putting up a good performance.”
Captain Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Masakadza, Vusi Sibanda and former captain Elton Chigumbura all played in the Dakar Premier League.
Chigumbura also starred in the Bangladesh Premier League with the bat and will be looking to continue with that form at international level.
Zimbabwe last played competitive cricket in September last year when they hosted Pakistan, but Masakadza said the players worked hard behind the scenes during the strike.
“We put in a lot of work during the strike and worked hard in the last three weeks, so our fitness levels are ok.”
The 15-man squad left the country on Wednesday for Bangladesh where they will play four warm up matches ahead of the tournament from March 16-April 6.
Squad: Brendan Taylor (Captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya, Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Brian Vitori, Tendai Chatara, Sean Williams, Malcolm Waller, Timycen Maruma, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Tinashe Panyangara, Natsai Mushangwe, Shingi Masakadza. — Staff Writer.