Zimbabwe look to impress again

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Adelaide, Feb 12 (IANS) Their golden era of cricket is well past them. What Zimbabwe were in the late 1990s are of stark contrast to what they are today.

After the retirement of the Flower brothers (Andy and Grant), Heath Streak, Alistair Campbell, Neil Johnson and Paul Strang, Zimbabwean cricket nosedived.

However, it has poked up its head again. Come Sunday and they will be featuring in their ninth World Cup and this time around the men in red and green have a balanced squad comprising experience and youth. They are quite capable of creating off major upsets in the 14-nation tournament.

Zimbabwe’s first appearance at the World Cup was in 1983, where they pulled off a big upset beating Australia. In 1999, they made it through to the Super Six stage, beating India and South Africa. In 2003 World Cup, they progressed to the Super Sixes.

As far as recent form goes Zimbabwe have not played any One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in the build up to the quadrennial event.

Their last ODI was against Bangladesh Dec 1. Their preparations have revolved around domestic cricket, an ‘A’ tour of Canada, and a team training camp in Dubai.

They have lost nine of their last 10 ODIs but their only win came against four-time World Cup champions Australia. That major triumph was followed by a 0-5 drubbing away against Bangladesh.

In the World Cup 2015, Zimbabwe will be led by all-rounder Elton Chigumbura. Hamilton Masakadza and Brendon Taylor will have the onus of putting big scores.

In the bowling department, Tendai Chatara and Tinashe Panyangara can be lethal in the pacy wickets in Australia and New Zealand.

Right-arm medium pacer Solomon Mire will also be a talent to watch out for. According to experts the 25-year-old can be a dark horse.

It will be a big achievement if the Dav Whatmore-coached side manage to sneak through the group stage.

Zimbabwe are placed in Pool B alongside defending champions India, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

In their second warm-up game against Sri Lanka Wednesday, the African outfit beat the Asian giants by seven wickets. That will give them immense confidence going into their opening encounter against neighbours South Africa in Hamilton Feb 15.

Squad: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Chamu Chibhabha, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Solomon Mire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Tinashe Panyangara, Brendan Taylor (wicketkeeper), Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams.

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