Zim cricket banks on Bangla experience

The Zimbabwe national team is confident it will be well prepared to take on Ireland on Monday despite an embarrassing warm up defeat to Hong Kong which has cast further doubts about the team’s preparedness for the International Cricket council (ICC) World T-20.

Staff Writer

Zimbabwe faces the ignominy of failing to progress to the tournament proper, with a tricky prospect of qualifying ahead of Ireland, United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

Their four-wicket defeat to Hong Kong came as a surprise to fans back home despite the shoddy preparations hampered by a player strike.

But assistant coach Steve Mangongo said the lessons leant in that game were important, adding that come Monday the team will be better equipped.

“The defeat upset us but we are not panicking; we know we are on the right track. We are confident we have come up with the right combinations and players know what they have to do when its crunch time,” said Mangongo.

“We know we cannot underestimate anyone but we also know that if we execute our skills well we will qualify. So far we are happy the spinners have been bowling tight spells but concern is with the seamers who have been a bit expensive and on the batting side we are excited by the Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza opening combination.”

Prosper Utseya’s trickery with the ball will be crucial for Zimbabwe’s ambitions in the sub-continent’s slow pitches and there were encouraging signs with his figures against Hong Kong where he picked up three wickets at the expense of just 19 runs in his four overs.

On the other hand Elton Chigumbura, who played plenty of cricket in Bangladesh last year in the Bangladesh and Dakar Premier Leagues, will be key with the bat after he smashed 45 runs from just 18 balls.

Zimbabwe is hoping for more of that on Monday in the crucial preliminary round match.

Mangongo said Zimbabwe’s early trip to Bangladesh had worked in their favour.

“It was good forward thinking by ZC to send us here a week in advance; we have acclimatised well and we are better educated on the conditions. We have been here many times before and that experience will help us and I think we are better equipped than our opponents.”