Chevrons in high spirits ahead of WC NEW ADDITION . . . The Zimbabwe senior men’s cricket team new bowling coach Steve Kirby (left) was introduced to the players by head coach Dave Houghton (centre) before the start of their practice match at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday. The Chevrons are scheduled to leave for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia tomorrow. — Picture: Zimbabwe Cricket

Eddie Chikamhi

Senior Sports Reporter

THE Zimbabwe national cricket team yesterday held their last training session in Harare with coach Dave Houghton emerging from the field in high spirits ahead of tomorrow’s departure for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup set for Australia.

Houghton, who is set to lead the team on their return to the global stage following a six-year hiatus, gave the players a day off to spend some time with their families today.

The squad will regroup in Harare tomorrow and then leave for Australia later in the evening. Houghton told journalists at the conclusion of the home leg of the preparations at Harare Sports Club yesterday that he was careful not to burn out his Chevrons as he needed the players to be in their best physical and mental condition for the gruelling 16-team tournament.  

“The team is looking pretty good,” he said.

“We have tried to minimise the amount of training and the practice that we have done in the week before we go because I want the guys getting on that plane hungry to play cricket and not bored from tedious practice.”

The Chevrons had their final training session yesterday morning. Apart from the physical conditioning and the team bonding exercises conducted last week, the Chevrons have also been working hard in the nets and have had centre wicket practices as part of their preparations.

Some of the players featured for their provincial teams in the domestic Pro50 Championship, which kicked off at the weekend.  

Morale is high in the Zimbabwe team who appear to have hit the right chords at the appropriate time after winning the qualifying tournament unbeaten and then beating Bangladesh 2-1 in a T20I series, all in the last three months. They also claimed a famous ODI victory over Australia, in Australia, during the same period.

Zimbabwe are set to begin their T20 World Cup campaign in the first round where they play Ireland, West Indies and Scotland in Group B, in a contest for a place in the prestigious Super 12 stage.

The top two teams from Group B will join the Super 12 stage, along with the top two teams from Group A which features Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and Namibia.

Houghton said they have been working on the psychological aspect of the game, which has been the team’s major weakness when it comes to international cricket against top quality opponents.

“I think over the last three months our mental application has come up quite nicely. We have got ourselves a bit of a winning habit going over the last three months; from the Qualifiers and Bangladesh and winning in Australia as well.

“So I think the mental position that we are in at the moment is very strong and the guys are very confident, I really believe,” said Houghton.

The Chevrons received a timely boost with the recovery of Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Chatara, Wellington Masakadza and Milton Shumba who have since been certified fit to play.

“They are all ready, so we have to congratulate our physio. He has done a wonderful job in getting the guys rehabilitated from their injuries.

“Look, these guys are all pretty senior players, they don’t need a whole heap of practice before they go out to the field.

“We had a few days here (this week) and some good days here last week as well. They are all ready to play and just can’t wait to go out there. It’s nice to have all our senior players back,” said Houghton.

Zimbabwe are expected to continue their final preparations in Australia with practice matches scheduled against Sri Lanka next Monday and Namibia three days later. The practice games will be played in Melbourne. The team will then shift base to Horbat, Tasmania, where they get their campaign underway against Ireland on October 17.

The Zimbabweans had last featured in a major ICC World Cup event in 2016.The Chevrons were thrown out of the last edition of the T20 World Cup following the suspension of Zimbabwe Cricket’s membership by ICC over third party interference.

After the game against Ireland on October 17, Zimbabwe are scheduled to take on the West Indies two days later.

The Chevrons will then complete their first-round action against Scotland on October 21.

The top two teams from Group B will join the Super 12 stage, along with the top two teams from Group A which features Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and Namibia.

The 16-team tournament runs from October 16 to November 13. The other teams that will make the line up in Australia include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the host nation, who all begin at the Super 12 stage.

Hosts Australia will be defending the title they won at the previous edition in the UAE last year.

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