Houghton aiming high at T20 World Cup - Zimbabwe team preview
Craig Ervine (c), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Tony Munyonga, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Sean Williams. Standby Players: Tanaka Chivanga, Innocent Kaia, Kevin Kasuza, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Victor Nyauchi.
Best finish at tournament:
First round (2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016)
Results in the last 10 games:
(Most recent first): W L W W W W W W L L
v Ireland (October 17), Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v West Indies (October 19), Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v Scotland (October 21) Bellerive Oval, Hobart
v Ireland (October 17) - If Zimbabwe are going to finish in the top two of their group and qualify for the Super 12 stage then they need to get off to a fast start against a talented Ireland team that will be keen to do the same. Former Zimbabwe captain and new coach Dave Houghton will have his troops ready for this clash and it is interesting to note that Ireland won a tight five-game series 3-2 when the two teams met prior to last year's T20 World Cup.
Sikandar Raza - The star all-rounder is one of the form white-ball players in the entire world and the 36-year-old will need to fire if Zimbabwe are going to reach the Super 12 stage. Raza was named Player of the Tournament during Zimbabwe's unbeaten Qualifier B campaign and three ODI centuries during the month of August alone saw him become the first Zimbabwe player to claim ICC's coveted Player of the Month award. Raza also bowls some more than handy off-spin, so expect the veteran to shine with both bat and ball in Australia.
What they say:
"We need to come in the top two for us to qualify for the next round," Zimbabwe coach Dave Houghton told the Sunday Mail Sport.
"As far as I am concerned, we should be looking at winning that pool and I do not see anybody in that pool who we cannot beat on a good day.
"It is obviously the best squad that we can actually put together and the best players are back from injury and it is great to have them."
Expectations are much higher for the African country since Houghton took over as coach and it is worth noting that Zimbabwe have only lost one T20I since the former skipper took the coaching reins in June this year. They also registered an upset 50-over victory over Australia in Queensland last month, so confidence will be sky high within the camp. Skipper Craig Ervine will be relied upon to contribute runs at the top of the order alongside Wessly Madhevere and Raza, while pacer Brad Evans and spinning all-rounder Ryan Burl are among a number of decent options that Zimbabwe have at their disposal with the ball.
Zimbabwe (11) are ranked higher than two of their first round group opponents - Ireland (12) and Scotland (15) - with Caribbean side the West Indies (7) the only team they will face in the opening round with a higher team ranking. As such, Zimbabwe can be expected to finish in the top two of their group and at the very least qualify for the Super 12 stage.
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