Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
AS the Zimbabwe national cricket team leaves for the United Arab Emirates today to intensify preparations for next month’s ICC Twenty20, coach Dav Whatmore believes the next two weeks will be crucial for his team.
This year’s tournament will take place in India from March 8 and Zimbabwe will start in the first round where they have been placed in Group B alongside Associate nations Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland.
The Chevrons begin their journey today when they leave for Dubai where they hope to play four practice games, two of them against West Indies.
Whatmore and his men are hoping to use the next few days to polish up their preparations under conditions similar to what they expect in the sub-continent.
Zimbabwe will also play at least two practice games in India before they start of the tournament.
“I think this training camp in Dubai will be very helpful. We are hoping to play four practice games and then play two more in India. I am sure this is specific practice for us,” said Whatmore.
“Of late we have seen some good batting and I hope we will continue in the same vein in the build up to the tournament. “I am sure the batsmen now have a better understanding of their roles and this has been shown by the totals they have been posting of late.
“It’s a plus our captain Hamilton Masakadza has been having fun scoring runs. He has posted some good scores and it’s good he is enjoying his game. But he needs to maintain that.
“We are also hoping our bowlers will also come good. We are happy with the return of Chatara and Panyangara, who are our top bowlers. Their presence will surely influence things for us in the department.
“The coming on board of Makhaya Ntini as our bowling coach was a big addition to our squad as well. He is a big asset and we are hoping that we will play more consistently and winning games.”
A send-off ceremony for the team was held in Harare yesterday.
Masakadza will lead the 15-member squad that includes experienced players like Elton Chigumbura, Vusi Sibanda, Sean Williams, Tinashe Panyangara and Malcom Waller.
Whatmore said they are aiming to do better than last edition in 2014 when they fell at the first hurdle
If Zimbabwe sail through from their first round group, they will join England, South Africa, defending champions Sri Lanka and the West Indies in the Super 10 stage.
The same format is being used again as the top eight ICC Full Member countries at the time of the draw were given a bye into the Super 10 league while the bottom two Full Members engage in round robin play-offs with the Associate members.
“So these guys know exactly what to do. There is no two ways about it. We have to win our games if we want to reach the Super 10. We have to finish top of the group because only one team will go through. “We are hoping for positive results throughout, that is the only way to progress. At the same time we are also preparing for the Super 10 because the competition at that stage is even tougher,” said Whatmore.
Zimbabwe will play their first match at the World Cup against Hong Kong on March 8 and then engage Scotland two days later. Their last Group B match will be against bogey side Afghanistan on March 12.
Zimbabwe T20 squad:
Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza, Tinashe Panyangara, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Sikandar Raza, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Luke Jongwe, Tendai Chisoro, Neville Madziva, Malcolm Waller, Vusi Sibanda and Graeme Cremer; Donald Tiripano (stand-by)