Zimbabwe counting on experience ahead of Hong Kong clash

Tuesday's contest will be Zimbabwe’s first ever face-off with Hong Kong.

Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore with players during a practice session at VCA Jamtha Stadium in Nagpur on Monday ahead of ICC T20 World Cup.   -  PTI

Zimbabwe’s urge to succeed in the ICC World Twenty20 championship should be strong, even if the wait for achievement has been a long one. After announcing its arrival in spectacular fashion in the shortest version’s first edition in South Africa, shaking the cricket world with a stunning victory over Australia, the slump was steep. Its self-imposed exile from victory ended seven years later in the 2014 T20 World Cup against the Netherlands and off the last ball.

Tuesday's contest will be Zimbabwe’s first ever face-off with Hong Kong. Skipper Hamilton Masakadza was clear about the road ahead. “From where we are starting, we can only go forward from here. We didn’t have the best of years in 2015 in terms of results. I believe we can only get better,” the hard-hitting batsman said.

Ruled out by injury are leggie Graeme Cremer, besides pacemen Luke Jengwe and Neville Madziva. The stress to score will be more for its star player Sean Williams as will the side rely on the flighted and arm-ball guiles of Wellington, the younger Masakadza, on the subcontinent’s slow and turning tracks.

Hong Kong, which has the youngest player of this edition, Waqas Khan, 16, and the one of the oldest, Ryan Campbell, 43, lost three matches in the Asia Cup qualifiers. But the batting form of Babar Hayat and Mark Chapman, in addition to Campbell’s return will boost the island side. The losses however will weigh heavy on it and to shake off that syndrome will be vital in its drive to a super 10 slot.

Zimbabwe’s collective experience, superior to all its group B rivals, will be bolstered further by having Dav Whatmore, Marvan Atapattu and Makhaya Ntini as coach, batting and bowling coaches respectively. The prospects of the African squad prevailing in this game are thus bright as also its progress to the next level.

Squads

Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Sikandar Raza Butt, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Chamu Chibhabha, Tendai Chisoro, Tawanda Mupariwa, Malcolm Waller, Vusumuzi Sibanda, Donald Tiripano.

Hong Kong: Tanwir Afzal (capt), Mark Chapman (vice-capt), Haseeb Amjad, Nadeem Ahmed, James Atkinson, Tanwir Ahmed, Ryan Campbell, Waqas Barkat, Babar Hayat, Christopher Carter, Aizaz Khan, Nizakat Khan, Anshuman Rath, Waqas Khan, Kinchit Shah.