Zimbabwe are back at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. After missing last year’s event in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, they will return to the big stage for the first time since 2016.
Powered by in-form all-rounder Sikandar Raza, Dave Houghton’s side are hoping to make an impression in their fifth ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign.
Zimbabwe took full advantage of home advantage to seal their place in Australia. The Chevrons dominated the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup World B Qualifier in Bulawayo, winning five games in a row with a string of impressive performances.
They were always able to get to first-inning totals around 200 and when the batters faltered, the bowling unit intensified. This was felt keenly in the final when Zimbabwe were knocked out for 132 but then beat the Dutch for 95 to take the overall qualifying victory.
Earlier this year, they showed promising signs in a 3-0 T20I series loss to Afghanistan and were reportedly disappointed to be trailed 3-2 in the series against African rivals Namibia.
Houghton is optimistic about his side’s prospects of navigating the first round, where they face a tricky draw in the form of double winners West Indies, Ireland and Scotland.
History of the T20 World Cup
Zimbabwe’s first act at the 2007 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup saw them pull off one of the most famous upsets in the event’s history.
Prosper Utseya’s side turned over star-studded Australia, crowned ICC Men’s Cricket World Champions in 2003, by five wickets in an incredible match at Newlands.
Elton Chigumbura did the damage with the ball, representing both Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, before Brendan Taylor’s unbeaten 60 led them to victory.
Zimbabwe won two games for the first time in India in 2016, beating Hong Kong and Scotland, although defeat to Afghanistan paid their Super 12 chances.
Raza is one of the best international white-ball cricketers this year, named player of the tournament in qualifying.
Playing in the middle order, the 36-year-old’s strike rate in the game’s shortest form went from 106.93 to 152.21 within months.
His fine form in the ODI format saw him lead Zimbabwe to a series win at home to Pakistan in August, their first 50-game winning streak against a major nation in five years.
Raza will look for skipper Craig Ervine, back from a hamstring injury, to build a platform in the power play and then dominate the opposing attack through the middle.
A number of Zimbabwe’s frontline bowlers overcame injuries to make Australia’s 15-man squad.
Tendai Chatara (clavicle), Wellington Masakadza (shoulder tendon) and Blessing Muzarabani (thigh) are all back in the fold in no time.
Whether they arrive undercooked remains to be seen, but the Seam Battery may need some help from Ryan Burl and Raza’s handy off-spin.
With Group B matches all taking place at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart, Zimbabwe will start against Ireland on October 17.
They will face the West Indies on October 19 before the end of their first round against Scotland on October 21.